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- Paediatr Child Health
- v.8(5); May-Jun 2003
Impact of media use on children and youth
The influence of the media on the psychosocial development of children is profound. Thus, it is important for physicians to discuss with parents their child’s exposure to media and to provide guidance on age-appropriate use of all media, including television, radio, music, video games and the Internet.
The objectives of this statement are to explore the beneficial and harmful effects of media on children’s mental and physical health, and to identify how physicians can counsel patients and their families and promote the healthy use of the media in their communities.
Television has the potential to generate both positive and negative effects, and many studies have looked at the impact of television on society, particularly on children and adolescents ( 1 , 2 ). An individual child’s developmental level is a critical factor in determining whether the medium will have positive or negative effects. Not all television programs are bad, but data showing the negative effects of exposure to violence, inappropriate sexuality and offensive language are convincing ( 3 ). Still, physicians need to advocate continued research into the negative and positive effects of media on children and adolescents.
Current literature suggests the following:
- Physicians can change and improve children’s television viewing habits ( 4 ).
- Canadian children watch excessive amounts of television ( 5 , 6 ).
- There is a relationship between watching violent television programming and an increase in violent behaviour by children ( 2 , 7 ).
- Excessive television watching contributes to the increased incidence of childhood obesity ( 8 , 9 ).
- Excessive television watching may have a deleterious effect on learning and academic performance ( 10 ).
- Watching certain programs may encourage irresponsible sexual behaviour ( 11 ).
- Television is an effective way of advertising products to children of various ages ( 12 ).
The average Canadian child watches nearly 14 h of television each week ( 13 ). By his/her high school graduation, the average teen will have spent more time watching television than in the classroom ( 2 ). Studies show how time spent watching television varies between different age groups and cultures ( 1 , 13 ). This is especially relevant when studying the effects of excessive television exposure on disadvantaged populations.
The amount of time that younger North American children currently spend watching television has not decreased significantly ( 14 ). A substantial number of children begin watching television at an earlier age and in greater amounts than what experts recommend ( 15 ). Evidence suggests that television’s influence on children and adolescents is related to how much time they spend watching television ( 1 , 2 , 16 ). As a result, with prolonged viewing, the world shown on television becomes the real world ( 1 , 2 ).
Television viewing frequently limits children’s time for vital activities such as playing, reading, learning to talk, spending time with peers and family, storytelling, participating in regular exercise, and developing other necessary physical, mental and social skills ( 9 ). In addition to the amount of time spent in front of the television, other factors that influence the medium’s effect on children include the child’s developmental level, individual susceptibility and whether children watch television alone or with their parents.
Television can be a powerful teacher ( 17 ). Watching Sesame Street is an example of how toddlers can learn valuable lessons about racial harmony, cooperation, kindness, simple arithmetic and the alphabet through an educational television format. Some public television programs stimulate visits to the zoo, libraries, bookstores, museums and other active recreational settings, and educational videos can certainly serve as powerful prosocial teaching devices. The educational value of Sesame Street, has been shown to improve the reading and learning skills of its viewers ( 18 ). In some disadvantaged settings, healthy television habits may actually be a beneficial teaching tool ( 17 ).
Still, watching television takes time away from reading and schoolwork. More recent and well-controlled studies show that even 1 h to 2 h of daily unsupervised television viewing by school-aged children has a significant deleterious effect on academic performance, especially reading ( 10 , 19 ).
The amount of violence on television is on the rise ( 20 ). The average child sees 12,000 violent acts on television annually, including many depictions of murder and rape. More than 1000 studies confirm that exposure to heavy doses of television violence increases aggressive behaviour, particularly in boys ( 2 , 21 – 23 ). Other studies link television or newspaper publicity of suicides to an increased suicide risk ( 24 – 28 ).
The following groups of children may be more vulnerable to violence on television:
- children from minority and immigrant groups;
- emotionally disturbed children;
- children with learning disabilities;
- children who are abused by their parents; and
- children in families in distress ( 2 , 7 ).
Physicians who see a child with a history of aggressive behaviour should inquire about the child’s exposure to violence portrayed on television.
Because television takes time away from play and exercise activities, children who watch a lot of television are less physically fit and more likely to eat high fat and high energy snack foods ( 9 ). Television viewing makes a substantial contribution to obesity because prime time commercials promote unhealthy dietary practices ( 15 , 29 ). The fat content of advertised products exceeds the current average Canadian diet and nutritional recommendations, and most food advertising is for high calorie foods such as fast foods, candy and presweetened cereals ( 14 , 29 ). Commercials for healthy food make up only 4% of the food advertisements shown during children’s viewing time ( 8 ). The number of hours of television viewing also corresponds with an increased relative risk of higher cholesterol levels in children ( 8 ). Television can also contribute to eating disorders in teenage girls, who may emulate the thin role models seen on television ( 8 ). Eating meals while watching television should be discouraged because it may lead to less meaningful communication and, arguably, poorer eating habits ( 29 , 30 ).
Today, television has become a leading sex educator in Canada. Between 1976 and 1996, there has been a 270% increase in sexual interactions during the family hour of 2000 hours to 2100 hours( 31 ). Television exposes children to adult sexual behaviours in ways that portray these actions as normal and risk-free, sending the message that because these behaviours are frequent, ‘everybody does it’. Sex between unmarried partners is shown 24 times more often than sex between spouses ( 32 – 35 ), while sexually transmitted infections and unwanted pregnancy are rarely mentioned.
Teens rank the media as the leading source of information about sex, second only to school sex education programs. Numerous studies document adolescents’ susceptibility to the media’s influence on their sexual attitudes, values and beliefs ( 34 , 35 ).
A detailed guide to responsible sexual content on television, and in films and music can be found in other peer-reviewed publications ( 35 ).
Some people believe that the media can influence sexual responsibility by promoting birth control, such as condom use. No current empirical evidence supports this concept; it is expected that the debate will continue.
Alcohol and smoking
Canada’s two largest breweries spend $200 million on advertising each year ( 36 ). On an annual basis, teenagers see between 1000 and 2000 beer commercials carrying the message that ‘real’ men drink beer. Convincing data suggest that advertising increases beer consumption ( 34 , 37 ), and in countries such as Sweden, a ban on alcohol advertising has led to a decline in alcohol consumption ( 38 ).
Tobacco products are not advertised directly on television in Canada. However, passive promotion occurs when, for example, a soap opera star lights a cigarette in a ‘macho’ act, a Formula One race car has cigarette advertising on it or sporting events carry the names of tobacco companies. There is evidence that passive advertising, which glamorizes smoking ( 28 ), has increased over the past few years.
Television is not the only way that children learn about tobacco and alcohol use; the concern is that the consequences of these behaviours are not accurately depicted on television. One-half of the G-rated animated feature films available on videocassette, as well as many music videos, show alcohol and tobacco use as normative behaviour without conveying the long term consequences of this use ( 39 ).
Advertising can have positive effects on children’s behaviour. For example, some alcohol manufacturers spend 10% of their budget on advertisements warning about the dangers of drinking and driving. In addition, although some health care professionals disagree about the health benefits of appropriate milk use, milk consumption has increased as a result of print and broadcast advertisements.
The developmental stage of a child plays a role in the effect of commercials. Young children do not understand the concept of a sales pitch. They tend to believe what they are told and may even assume that they are deprived if they do not have advertised products. Most preschool children do not understand the difference between a program designed to entertain and a commercial designed to sell. A number of studies have documented that children under the age of eight years are developmentally unable to understand the difference between advertising and regular programming ( 12 , 40 , 41 ).
The average child sees more than 20,000 commercials each year ( 12 ). More than 60% of commercials promote sugared cereals, candy, fatty foods and toys ( 12 ). Cartoon programs based on toy products are especially attractive. Advertisements targeting adolescents are profoundly influential, particularly on cigarette use ( 4 ).
The question of whether children are more resilient to the influence of television is debated frequently. Most studies show that the more time children spend watching television, the more they are influenced by it ( 4 ). Earlier studies have shown that boys may be more susceptible than girls to television violence ( 25 ).
Education and parental involvement
High school programs promoting media awareness have been shown to be beneficial ( 4 ). They give students more understanding of how the media may affect them socially. In Canada, the Media Awareness Network has a number of resources that can be used by both professionals and the public to promote media literacy. Their resources are comprehensive, current and specifically applicable to Canadian culture ( 42 ).
Parents may use ratings but they must be used with caution. Currently, there is no consensus as to which rating system works best ( 43 ). Parental involvement in determining desirable programming is the best choice. Parents have to monitor and control their children’s viewing habits.
Studies show that parents play an important role in their children’s social learning ( 44 ), but if a parent’s views are not discussed explicitly with children, the medium may teach and influence by default. Other media, such as magazines, radio, video games and the Internet, also have the potential to influence children’s eating habits, exercise habits, buying habits and mental health. If children are allowed to be exposed to these media without adult supervision, they may have the same deleterious effects as television.
Music videos may have a significant behavioural impact by desensitizing viewers to violence and making teenagers more likely to approve of premarital sex ( 45 ). Up to 75% of videos contain sexually explicit material ( 45 ), and more than half contain violence that is often committed against women. Women are portrayed frequently in a condescending manner that affects children’s attitudes about sex roles.
Attractive role models are the aggressors in more than 80% of music video violence. Males are more than three times as likely to be the aggressors; blacks were overrepresented and whites underrepresented. Music videos may reinforce false stereotypes. A detailed analysis of music videos raised concerns about its effects on adolescents’ normative expectations about conflict resolution, race and male-female relationships ( 46 ).
Music lyrics have become increasingly explicit, particularly with references to sex, drugs and violence. Research linking a cause-and-effect relationship between explicit lyrics and adverse behavioural effects is still in progress at this time. Meanwhile, the potential negative impact of explicit music lyrics should put parents and paediatricians on guard – paediatricians should bring this up in anticipatory guidance discussions with teenagers and their parents. At the very least, parents should take an active role in monitoring the music their children are exposed to ( 45 ).
Some video games may help the development of fine motor skills and coordination, but many of the concerns about the negative effects of television (eg, inactivity, asocial behaviour and violence) also apply to excessive exposure to video games. Violent video games should be discouraged because they have harmful effects on children’s mental development ( 7 , 47 ). Parents should be advised to familiarize themselves with various rating systems for video games and use this knowledge to make their decisions.
The effect of violent video games on children has been a public health concern for many years. No quantitative analysis of video game contents for games rated as suitable for all audiences was made until 2001 ( 47 ). The study concluded that many video games rated as suitable for all audiences contained significant amounts of violence (64% contained intentional violence and 60% rewarded players for injuring a character). Therefore, current ratings of video games leave much room for improvement ( 43 ).
Parents may feel outsmarted or overwhelmed by their children’s computer and Internet abilities, or they may not appreciate that the ‘new medium’ is an essential component of the new literacy, something in which their children need to be fluent. These feelings of inadequacy or confusion should not prevent them from discovering the Internet’s benefits. The dangers inherent in this relatively uncontrolled ‘wired’ world are many and varied, but often hidden. These dangers must be unmasked and a wise parent will learn how to protect their children by immersing themselves in the medium and taking advice from the many resources aimed at protecting children while allowing them to reap the rich benefits in a safe environment. The physician is in a good position to encourage parents and children to discover the Internet and to use it wisely.
The Internet has a significant potential for providing children and youth with access to educational information, and can be compared with a huge home library. However, the lack of editorial standards limits the Internet’s credibility as a source of information. There are other concerns as well.
The amount of time spent watching television and sitting in front of computers can affect a child’s postural development ( 48 ). Excessive amounts of time at a computer can contribute to obesity, undeveloped social skills and a form of addictive behaviour ( 9 ). Although rare, some children with seizure disorders are more prone to attacks brought on by a flickering television or computer screen. No data suggest that television viewing causes weakness of the eyes. It may be different when a child is closely exposed to a computer screen for long periods, although there are no definitive references to support this.
Other concerns include pedophiles who use the Internet to lure young people into relationships. There is also the potential for children to be exposed to pornographic material. Parents can use technology that blocks access to pornography and sex talk on the Internet, but must be aware that this technology does not replace their supervision or guidance.
There is a wealth of information on coping with the vast resources of the Web, both good and bad. Above all, parents should be encouraged to appreciate that there is potential for more good than bad, as long as one has the knowledge to tell the difference. Canadian youth claim the Internet as a defining part of their culture and an integral part of their daily lives ( 6 ). Physicians and parents alike must be armed and ready to face that challenge and ensure that they reap the potential benefits as safely as possible ( Table 1 ).
Benefits and risks of Internet use by children and youth
|Benefits of the Internet|
|Adverse effects on values|
- Physicians should regularly inquire about media habits when taking a psychosocial history, using the Media History Form developed by the Canadian Paediatric Society (CPS) and the Media Awareness Network ( 51 ). They should also ask about video watching, use of video games, radio programs and time spent in front of the computer, especially when dealing with aggressive and particularly vulnerable children and families ( 7 ).
- Physicians should become more familiar with the kinds of media to which their patients may be exposed, such as programs that portray irresponsible sex and violence, and questionable Internet sites.
- Physicians should make parents aware of the significance of television early in a child’s life. By the end of the first year of a child’s life, there should be ground rules for television viewing and healthy viewing habits should be established in the second year of life. Patient education tools developed by the CPS and the Media Awareness Network can be used to supplement teaching. Visit www.caringforkids.cps.ca for more information.
- Physicians should continue to increase their own level of awareness about the most recent data on the influence of media on the development of their patients’ psychosocial health ( www.media-awareness.ca is one of the most comprehensive Canadian resources for further education).
- Physicians are encouraged to learn about the scope of Internet-related issues to adequately advise parents during their visits for anticipatory guidance. The Media History Tool ( 51 ) can be used to identify areas of concern and to facilitate discussion with parents and children. They can be encouraged to develop a family agreement for on-line use at home. The Media Awareness Network Web site ( www.media-awareness.ca ) has suggestions on how to do this.
Physicians should encourage families to do the following:
- Families should be encouraged to explore media together and discuss their educational value. Children should be encouraged to criticize and analyze what they see in the media. Parents can help children differentiate between fantasy and reality, particularly when it comes to sex, violence and advertising.
- No child should be allowed to have a television, computer or video game equipment in his or her bedroom. A central location is strongly advised with common access and common passwords.
- Television watching should be limited to less than 1 h to 2 h per day. Families may want to consider more active and creative ways to spend time together.
- Older children should be offered an opportunity to make choices by planning the week’s viewing schedule in advance. Ideally, parents should supervise these choices and be good role models by making their own wise choices. Parents should explain why some programs are not suitable and praise children for making good and appropriate choices.
- Families should limit the use of television, computers or video games as a diversion, substitute teacher or electronic nanny. Parents should also ask alternative caregivers to maintain the same rules for media use in their absence. The rules in divorced parents’ households should be consistent.
Physicians who want to get involved in their communities can consider the following:
- Provide parents with resources and information to promote media awareness programs in their communities and schools. The Media Awareness Network ( www.media-awareness.ca ) has resources and research reports for parents, teachers, teenagers and others.
- Promote the implementation of high school programs in media awareness, which have proven to be beneficial ( 4 ).
- Express support for good media. In addition to writing to stations that broadcast responsible and good television programs, physicians and parents can support legislation that encourages more responsible media use.
- Support efforts to eliminate alcohol advertising on television with the same enthusiasm that led to the elimination of tobacco advertising.
- Consider accepting invitations to talk to parent groups, school boards and other organizations about the impact of media on children and youth. The American Academy of Pediatrics and the Media Awareness Network have kits that include a fully scripted text, colourful slides, a fact sheet and audience handouts. Visit www.cps.ca or www.media-awareness.ca for more information.
- Support further research on the impact of media on the mental and physical well-being of children and adolescents.
PSYCHOSOCIAL PAEDIATRICS COMMITTEE
Members: Drs Anne C Bernard-Bonnin, Hôpital Sainte-Justine, Montréal, Quebec; Kim Joyce Burrows, Kelowna, British Columbia; Anthony Ford-Jones, Joseph Brant Memorial Hospital, Burlington, Ontario; Sally Longstaffe, Children’s Hospital, Winnipeg, Manitoba (chair); Theodore A. Prince, Calgary, Alberta; Sarah Emerson Shea, IWK Health Centre, Halifax, Nova Scotia (director responsible)
Consultants: Drs Rose Geist, The Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto, Ontario; William J Mahoney, Children’s Hospital-Hamilton HSC, Hamilton, Ontario; Peter Nieman, Alberta Children’s Hospital, Calgary, Alberta
Liaisons: Drs Joseph F. Hagan, University of Vermont College of Medicine, Burlington, Vermont (American Academy of Pediatrics); Anton Miller, Sunnyhill Health Centre for Children, Vancouver, British Columbia (Developmental Paediatrics Section, Canadian Paediatric Society)
Principal author: Drs Anthony Ford-Jones, Joseph Brant Memorial Hospital, Burlington, Ontario; Peter Nieman, Alberta Children’s Hospital, Calgary, Alberta
The recommendations in this statement do not indicate an exclusive course of treatment or procedure to be followed. Variations, taking into account individual circumstances, may be appropriate.
Articles from Paediatrics & Child Health are provided here courtesy of Oxford University Press
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The Impact Of Television Programmes On Youth Media Essay
The purpose of this study is to study the impact of television programmes on youth. As a communication technology, television has a great acceptance and is being used extensively in India. Television viewership is no more restricted to the upper and upper-middle class of India as it used to be a few years back.
Therefore, this study conducted to understand whether demography influenced the viewership patterns of respondents or not. Television provides a variety of local and foreign channels and helps people in selecting programmes according to their taste and choice. Therefore, the first part of this study explored respondents preferred channels and kinds of programmes, reasons for watching television, preferred time of watching and control over the remote. It justified the application of ‘Uses and Gratification Theory’. This theory identifies television consumption patterns according to needs and satisfaction of targeted segment. The gratification factor leads to the exposure of programmes which in turn can generate impact.
Main part of this study comes under the impact practice. It demands discussion on theories based on observational learning and information processing emphasize lifelong impact of exposure to media contents. Thus, the study also applies ‘Cultivation Theory’ in terms of impact through exposure and ‘Social learning Theory’ which says that viewers attend and learn from models which are attractive, powerful, rewarding and similar to themselves. They do not act immediately on what they learn from television. Instead, they store such knowledge to be used when their own circumstances elicit it. Hence, the framework of this research is based on the set of three theories i.e. Uses and Gratification Theory, Cultivation Theory and Social Learning Theory. These theories are discussed below in relation with the present study in brief.
2.1Uses and Gratification
Utility Theory, often known as the "Uses and Gratification Approach" offers another way of explaining why people expose themselves to some communications and not others; why they perceive a fraction of these to which they are exposed and why they remember- correctly or incorrectly. Blumler and Katz’s Uses and Gratification Theory suggest that media users play an active role in choosing and using the media. Users take an active part in the communication process and are goal oriented in their media usage. Theorists say that media users seek out source that best fulfils their needs. Uses and Gratification Theory assumes that users have alternate choices to satisfy their needs (Griffin. 2000).55
Uses and Gratification Theory takes a more humanistic approach to looking at the media usage. The theory takes out the possibility that media can have an unconscious influence on our lives and how we view the world. The idea that we simply use media to satisfy a given need does not seem to fully recognize the power of media in today’s society.
2.2 Cultivation Theory
Cultivation Theory in its most basic form, suggests that television is responsible for shaping or cultivating viewer’s conceptions of social reality. The combined effect of massive television exposure by viewer’s over time subtly shapes the perception of social reality for individuals and, ultimately for our culture as a whole. Thus, cultivation research is in the effects traditions. Cultivation research looks at the mass media as a socialising agent and investigates whether television viewers come to believe the television version of reality the more they watch it. Gerbner and his colleagues argue that television drama has a small but significant influence on the attitudes, beliefs and judgement of viewers’ concerning the social world. The focus is on ‘heavy viewers’. People who watch a lot of television are likely to be more influenced by the ways in which the world is framed by television programmes than are individuals who watch less, especially regarding topics of which the viewer has little first-hand experience. Light viewers may have more sources of information than heavy viewers. 58
Under guidance of this theory, this study may be able to emerge as a new theory. Essentially, the theory states that heavy exposure to mass media namely television creates and cultivates attitudes more consistent with a media fabricated version of reality than with what actual reality is. The cultivation theory asserts that heavy viewer’s attitudes are cultivated primarily by what they watch on television. Cultivation theorists are best known for their study of television and viewer’s and in particular, for a focus on the topic of violence. However, some studies have also considered other mass media from this perspective and have dealt with topics such as gender roles, age groups, ethnic groups and political attitudes.
2.3 Social Learning Theory
According to Bandura, behaviours and responses that are repeated, perceived as real, distinct, functional and salient are more likely to be attended to, thus more likely to be learned. When observing an event, which receives some kind of reward like social approval, pleasant experience and when the observer feels confident to perform, it’s symbolic imitation is facilitated. The social cognitive principle has been widely employed to explain in television effects on a variety of social issues such as aggression, ethnic stereotypes, alcohol, attitudes and behaviour. It also stresses the importance of viewer’s cognitive activities when consuming television messages (Bandura. 1977). 63
Socialization process of person is influenced by innumerable factors such as family, school, environment factors etc. Direct experience and participation are important parameters which shape the youth’s impressions of the perceived structure of their environment. Mass media, particularly television plays a crucial role in bringing the outside world into homes. As an important institution, mass media enters the socialization process of an individual.
In light of all these theories stated above, it is important to mention that the researcher has formulated a combination of the three theories in order to assess what is the main reason of their watching, their preferred channels and programmes. While on the other hand, it has also measured what kind of impact are taking place in the lives of the sample under study? If there are some affects that are changing attitudes of youth under the study. Are these effects long-lasting or short term. Hence, the researcher intended to explore all this for which the base of above mentioned theories was most suitable and required.
It was also assumed that the youth are vulnerable to influences and tend to be inclined towards change. Youth would serve as a barometer to assess the influence of television. Now, with the availability of the foreign channels, an important question arises: does a youth’s behaviour reflect what his/her has watched on the television screen? The impact of foreign television programmes on youth involves a number of indispensible factors such as interest in the programmes, viewing pattern, reasons for watching, attitude towards programmes and models of social reality that these programmes promote. The study aimed at finding out whether and to what extent television affect youth in Rohtak and Jhajjar districts. The researcher aimed at finding answers to questions such as what youth think about these programmes in terms of their preferences and relevance. Is there any restriction on youth for watching television channels? Whether they experience an impact of these programmes on their attitudes or not?
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The Effect Of Television On Children Young People Essay
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Published: Mon, 5 Dec 2016
Educators hoped that TV would serve as a window of knowledge for children. They hoped that it would broaden their knowledge by exposing them to various learning experiences, and help them learn about different cultures. Educators’ thought that TV would play a vital role in preparing preschoolers physically and psychologically for school. In contrast, today the effect of television on children has become a growing concern to many educators’ due to its effect on children’s behavior, health, and cognitive development and learning.
We do not deny the TV holds many benefits to children if used properly and under adequate supervision of adults. Yet, we cannot deny its negative effects of TV. In this article we will talk about the negative effect of TV, and how it affects children, while on the same time mentioning its positive effects. We will first discusses the amount of time children spend in front of their TV sets, We will then move talk about how TV affects children’s behavior, health, cognitive development, and learning. We will also try to highlight the reasons behind children spending extended hours in front of their TV sets. Finally, we will try to suggest some solutions to this issue and how can we mitigate the negative effect of TV on children.
The Amount Of Time Children Spend In Front Of Their TV Sets
Children in their early developmental stages are very fragile and vulnerable physically and emotionally .they fail to distinguish between what is right and what is wrong and could blindly accept what they see on TV as facts upon which they base their future judgments. Children often like to imitate other and of
Ten do so with what they view on TV without being able to identify the consequences of their actions. We need to realize the harm this device could do to children in order to be able to modify the way we view the role TV plays in children’s lives .we need to acknowledge the fact that children view TV more than any other media. We also need to realize that children use TV for fantasy, diversion and instruction. Children who are spending extensive hours in front of their TV sets are shield from the outside world. They fail to interact emotionally with other. A parent may walk in the door after being all day away at work and their daughter or son will not even left their eye to see them or run to them because they are so consumed by watching TV. The younger the children are the more effected they are because they fail to distinguish between fantasy and reality, and learn by observing and imitating.
Television has become a major part of our children’s lives .From the time they wake up until the time they fall asleep their tiny little eyes are glued to the television screen. In most of the households TV has taken up the role of a nanny in the house, not mentioning that it has also become a major source of knowledge for children. How many times have we asked kids where did you learn that from? And the answer was from the TV.Zimmerman and Christakis in their research Children’s Television Viewing and Cognitive Outcomes they mention that toddlers at the age of 3 watched TV at an average of 2.2 hours daily. While from ages 3 to 5 years the average increases to 3.3 hours daily. (Zimmerman Christakis, 2005)
A shocking article titled TV Hurts Kids Of All Ages, Studies Say on CBS news revealed how early children begin watching TV on regular basses “The first study finds that 40 percent of infants are regular TV watchers by the time they are 3 months old. By the time they are 2 years old, 90 percent of children regularly watch TV. In most cases, it doesn’t seem to be a matter of parents using the TV as a surrogate babysitter, but rather parents truly believe that shows aimed at tots will somehow expand their minds, language skills and cognitive abilities, the study found.” (Johnson, 2007)
Children are often left in front of the TV for extended hours in front of the TV without supervision to view all types of programs regardless of the fact that those programmes do not suit their age groups. Many of these programs are full of violent and aggressive scenes that affect children negatively. It either reinforces aggressive and violent behavior in them, or plants fear into those little hearts. Children who are often subjected to violent behavior tend to form violent behavior .they tend to be hostile and aggressive towards their peers and fail to relate in a social mannar. “In Norway, a 5 – year – old girl was severely harassed by her friends following the viewing of a particular television series.” (Lemish, 2007)
TV violence could also aggravate fretfulness and dreadfulness in children who are exposed to it. “A survey of more than the n 2,000 elementary and middle school children revealed that heavy television viewing was associated with self-reported symptoms of anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress.” (Wilson, 2008)
First before further talking about how TV violence affects children’s behavior lets first define what violent behavior refers to. Violent behavior could be defined as any type of intentional behavior to harm others physically or emotionally which means it could be verbal or physical. (Lemish, 2007)
So, where does violent behavior come from? The ground approach in sociology quarrels that children acquire various behaviors by copying authority figures in their lives, through positive reinforcement. Children repeat behaviors that are positively reinforced, and refrain from behaviors that are negatively reinforced. Children may imitate violent behavior they witnessed ages ago, which means they carry in their long term memory.TV in turn, is a rich source of violent behavior. Violent behavior may be found in not only action movies, but also in children’s movies and cartoons.
Let’s take children’s movies like the HULK or cartoons like Ben Ten and even as basic cartoons like Tom and Jerry .just one look at the chineese animated cartoons like Conon will let you realize the amount of violence on TV.
Yet, we do not generalize this issue. There are many educational and other specialized programmes or cartoons for kids. For example: sesame street, teletubbies, or Dora. There is no doubt that educational TV programs have a positive effect .in a landitudal study by Wright et. al (2001) “educational viewing (particularly Sesame Street) was related to letter word and number skills, vocabulary, and school readiness for children.” (Muarry, 2007).
verbal violence is another form of violence in children is widely spreading and the main source for it is TV programs .in her book Children and Television (A Global Perspective) Lemish refers to studies on this issue “Studies that measured the frequency and types of various forms of violence on television in various countries have re- affirmed the international scope of this phenomenon” (Lemish, 2007)
TV violence could also aggravate fearfulness and dreadfulness in children who are exposed to it. Children my for various types of phobias and fears from things they view on TV especially at night this would be most evident in forms of nightmare or fear to sleep alone .This is mostly due to the wide imagination that children posses. “A survey of more than the n 2,000 elementary and middle school children revealed that heavy television viewing was associated with self-reported symptoms of anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress.” (Wilson, 2008)
Affects on Health
Another effect of television on children is health related. The fact that children sit idle in front of the TV for hour can lead to health issues like obesity. Some studies have pointed that watching TV by children may not cause obesity directly but it indirectly keep children from indulging in other outdoor activities that enhance their metabolism. (Dixon, 2007)
.the impact of advertisement on children and their diet is great. Food and beverages advertisements directed to children have constantly been criticized for influencing children’s nutritional choices. We will often find kids watching TV and gulping down packets of chips and popcorn that are full of saturated fats that contribute directly to obisety, malnutration, and mineral deficiency and sometimes anemia.
Grossbart eals onand Crosby (1984) found that children’s snack preferences were influenced by the types of food they saw advertised. Children who saw commercials for sugared snacks and cereals were significantly more likely to say they preferred highly sugared products than children who saw public service announcements for wholesome foods or children in a control group. Those who saw a pro-nutrition TV program chose sugared snacks than the control group.
Number of studies point out to the relation between obesity among children and extensive viewing of TV .studies referred to the impact of ads on children food preferences. It showed that 98% of the foods advertised are rich in sugar and salts and are viewed by children between ages 2 to 11. (González, 2010)
recently many studies link early TV viewing to development of ADD’ Attention Defect Disorder’ /ADHD ‘Attention Defect Hyperactive Disorder’ in children at later stages “The study revealed that each hour of television watched per day at ages 1-3 increases the risk of attention problems, such as ADHD, by almost 10 percent at age 7..” (Center, 2004).
The affect of advertisement also extends to children being exposed to Alcohol and smoking.They grow up viewing these practices as part of being social and often end up consuming alcohol or smoking by the time they reach adolescence. “, Mr. Balls said a study by Alcohol Concern revealed a spike in television drinks advertisements between 4pm and 6pm, when many children watch.” (Henry, 2007)
Learning and Cognitive Development
The most alarming effect amongst all is the effect of television on children’s learning and development. Unfortunately, the effect of TV does not stop at learning; it also effects children’s development making it a major concern for parents and educators.
There have been some indications that television further effects children’s language development preference .As children grow their TV habits Change. Children’s mental capabilities, life style, and individual impact TV use as well as the socio-cultural context. The amount of time spent on TV has always been a major concern. “Cross-sectional studies show that viewing generally increases during the preschool years and peaks in early adolescence” (Muarry, 2007)
How often do we find children preferring watching TV then reading? Reading to them is a strenuous monotonous task. TV is a two sided tool on one side it enhances creativity, and on the other it discourages it. There is relationship between performance in school and viewing TV. Research found that spending time watching TV affect the academic grades. Children who had television sets in their bedrooms scored significantly lower on school achievement tests than children without TVs in their bedrooms. Therefore, instead of doing homework or reading the child will replace by watching TV.
According to Dr. Senay a studies reveal that teenagers in the age of 14 who view TV for 3 hours a day form problems in their academic achievement ,and in turn are less likely to join collage later (Johnson, 2007)
Moreover, TV has an impact on children’s behavior and attitudes. It raises their awareness to the issue of stereotypes raised by the TV. It also directs them towards gender biases in the way women are portrayed. Also pushes them towards developing poor habits like smoking and alcohol .on TV smokers are often successful people, not mentioning that hoe alcohol is a major requirement for socialization and relaxation. (university of michigan health system, 2010)
Why Do Parents Allow Their Children To Use TV Abusively?
The question that may rise in the readers’ heads may be why do parents allow their children to do so? Besides what e the parents of infants thinking when they subject them to these entire negative affects!
The truth is that parents are not fully aware of the effect of television on their children. Some deliberately place their children in front of TV sets assuming they are stimulating their senses, or other parents who fall for the add gimmicks regarding the educational programs. Dr. Senay advises parents to discourage to exempt toddlers from viewing to. It is more benifitital for children to develop their sensory and motor skills through interaction with parents and their surrounding environments (Johnson, 2007)
.There are many measures that could be taken to reverse the affects of television on children however the most important and first step is spreading awareness. From all information we reviled we found that the main reason why parents allow their kids to view so much TV is due to lack of awareness. Awareness on this issue could be spread on the media itself like CBS did by interviewing Dr.Senay on TV. It could also done by children health care centers by spreading broachers on the topic or holding small workshops at the centers to inform parents on the effects of television on children.
There are much parents can do to mitigate the effect of TV on children. The first step parents can take is to control the amount of TV their children view. This could be done by replacing TV with other fun activities that allows kids to stimulate their senses and engage with the outdoor environment. Parents will find their kids growing attached to them and relating to them instead of sitting glued to the TV sets.
In Households where children’s rooms have TV set. A wise idea would be to get rid of them. These TV sets will only isolate the kids from the rest of the family .in other words they do more harm than good.
However the most important step parents can do is to monitor the children’s use of TV. There are many TV sets which allow parental control. They enable parents to restrict certain content and programmes while also restrict the time. Parents by no means should allow their children to view TV without supervision, or purchase movies or cartoons without them ensuring that it I fit for them to view.
There are many measures that could be taken b y governments such as controlling the advertisements that are aired during the time it is supposed that the most viewers are below 18.
They could also monitor the content of TV programs and movies for violet and inappropriate content. The governments need to at times take extreme measures with TV channels and broad casts companies that fail to keep their content free of violent unhealthy and harmful content.
In conclusion we have reviewed the many affects of TV on children. We talked about the long and extensive hours children spend in front of their TV sets. We then discussed how TV is responsible for violent and aggressive behavior in kids.whe also discussed how it also opens the door for verbal violence in children. It also is a reason for children forming fears and phobias. Furthermore, we moved to illustrate the effects of TV on children’s health. We revealed how many studied showed that TV was responsible for obesity in children because it keeps them from practicing and taking part in other activities, TV totally blocks those children from the outside world. Latter on we shed light on how TV effects children’s cognitive devlopment.TV affects children’s speech and discouraging them foe indulging in important activities like readin.TV simply makes reading look as a boring and monotones activity for children. We also mentioned how some studies link TV to ADD and ADHD. Furthermore we referred to studies that extensive viewing of TV lessens children’s eagerness to join collage as adults. Likewise we also showed how TV effected those children’s moral judgment they fail to distinguish right actions from wrong ones simply because media becomes the criteria by which they crate their moral compass. Then we move on the explaining the reasons behind parents allowing their children to use TV abusively. We showed how it all mostly is result of lack of awareness. Finally we suggested some solutions that will help do some damage control on the part of parents. We also mentioned how the government could play a vital role in controlling abusive content from appearing on TV sets. We truly help that we were able to shed light and divert attention to this issue. We’re talking about children here as adults we are obligated to make the right choices for them and keep them out of the way of harm.
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