Parent Connection: Television and Children
Television has become the everyday companion of today’s child. We are told that most young children watch between 25 and 54 hours of TV each week. This is more time than any other single activity, except sleeping. Is this unsettling to you? Just consider these findings about frequent and consistent TV viewing in young children:
AGGRESSIVENESS – Children act out and play roles they see on TV -actions, fears, violence, adult stupidity, social horrors. While adults can watch small amounts of this “harmlessly”, young children are extremely vulnerable and impressionable and will “imitate” behaviors they see hour after hour. Super-hero play can be a real problem for parents and teachers.
LANGUAGE DEVELOPMENT – children learn words and how to communicate effectively through “real” or first-hand talk, not by hearing words and conversation on TV. Using language in real conversations with others is how learning and language is accomplished.
INFLUENCE OF COMMERCIALS – Children who are exposed to the false values through commercials are being exposed to an unnecessary and often harmful view of the materialistic world.
Under the age of six, children are easily influenced and are not able to sort out the real from the unreal that they view on the screen. Television intensifies the confusion of the child’s world through information overload – too much, too soon.
Even the educational programs, though harmless in content, can be poor substitutes for time that could be spent in activity and real play experiences. While some programs certainly entertain and teach, selection of appropriate programs needs to be carefully monitored.
Adults who choose to watch television with children present need to be aware of the strong impact it may have on a child. In addition, excessive adult viewing of TV can often interfere with the quality of family life within a home. Many homes are unaware of the constant drain the “noise” of TV can become when left “on” indiscriminately.
Whether we like it or not, television is here to stay. Will it be a controlling force in our children’s lives? Will it eat into those first, precious early years of a child’s life? Or can we see television as a helpful tool to provide some entertaining programming and quiet time to an otherwise exhausting and demanding day for parents?
The power and influence of television is in your hands. Use it wisely and don’t forget that this is one time that saying “no” to your own TV viewing habits as well as your child’s can have lasting benefits.
….Karin Klein, Ed.D., Administrator, Red Hill School, Red Hill, PA.
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