Do you let your kids watch TV? I do. I watch TV with her.
I am not one of those parents who are so praning when it comes to watching television. My daughter’s mornings are spent watching cartoons on TV5 and her afternoons are spent either playing on the computer or watching cartoons again. Of course this will change when she goes to school but now that she’s only busy during Tuesday and Friday for her Kumon classes, then I guess it is just okay for her to watch TV on non-Kumon days.
You might be wondering why I am not allowing her to play with kids in the neighborhood. Its just the two of us at home when her dad is at work so no one will look after her outside and I find it too unsafe to let her go out alone. So the TV is our bestfriend =)
One good thing about her is she loses interest on some shows that she just shuts it off immediately. During those times she would grab her books or art materials to do her stuff. She’s one responsible TV buff.
But of course this is just me. I respect what other parents say about watching television. BUT the most important thing here is, I AM WITH HER when she watches TV and I explain the scenes to her if I find it too sensitive.
According to Media Awareness in Canada, there are three areas of concern: Violence, Effects on Healthy Child Development and Sexual Content. This is worth reading:
Over the past two decades, hundreds of studies have examined how violent programming on TV affects children and young people. While a direct “cause and effect” link is difficult to establish, there is a growing consensus that some children may be vulnerable to violent images and messages.
Researchers have identified three potential responses to media violence in children:
Increased fear—also known as the “mean and scary world” syndrome
Children, particularly girls, are much more likely than adults to be portrayed as victims of violence on TV, and this can make them more afraid of the world around them.
Desensitization to real-life violence
Some of the most violent TV shows are children’s cartoons, in which violence is portrayed as humorous—and realistic consequences of violence are seldom shown.
Increased aggressive behaviour
This can be especially true of young children, who are more likely to exhibit aggressive behaviour after viewing violent TV shows or movies.
Parents should also pay close attention to what their children see in the news since studies have shown that kids are more afraid of violence in news coverage than in any other media content. Fear based on real news events increases as children get older and are better able to distinguish fantasy from reality.
Effects on healthy child development
Television can affect learning and school performance if it cuts into the time kids need for activities crucial to healthy mental and physical development. Most of children’s free time, especially during the early formative years, should be spent in activities such as playing, reading, exploring nature, learning about music or participating in sports.
TV viewing is a sedentary activity, and has been proven to be a significant factor in childhood obesity. According to the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada almost one in four Canadian children, between seven and 12, is obese. Time spent in front of the TV is often at the expense of more active pastimes.
A Scientific American article entitled “Television Addiction” examined why children and adults may find it hard to turn their TVs off. According to researchers, viewers feel an instant sense of relaxation when they start to watch TV—but that feeling disappears just as quickly when the box is turned off. While people generally feel more energized after playing sports or engaging in hobbies, after watching TV they usually feel depleted of energy. According to the article “this is the irony of TV: people watch a great deal longer than they plan to, even though prolonged viewing is less rewarding.”
As well as encouraging a sedentary lifestyle, television can also contribute to childhood obesity by aggressively marketing junk food to young audiences. According to the Canadian Paediatric Society, most food advertising on children’s TV shows is for fast foods, candy and pre-sweetened cereals. Commercials for healthy food make up only 4 per cent of those shown.
A lot of money goes into making ads that are successful in influencing consumer behaviour. McDonald’s, the largest food advertiser on TV, reportedly spent $500 million on their “We love to see you smile” ad campaign.
Kids today are bombarded with sexual messages and images in all media—television, magazines, advertisements, music, movies and the Internet. Parents are often concerned about whether these messages are healthy. While television can be a powerful tool for educating young people about the responsibilities and risks of sexual behaviour, such issues are seldom mentioned or dealt with in a meaningful way in programs containing sexual content.
According to a 2001 study from the Kaiser Family Foundation, entitled Sex on TV, three out of four prime time shows contain sexual references. Situation comedies top the list: 84 per cent contain sexual content. Of the shows with sexual content, only one in ten included references to safe sex, or the possible risks or responsibilities of sex. In shows that portrayed teens in sexual situations, only 17 per cent contained messages about safe and responsible sex.