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Television is an important part of every child’s life. From witnessing the magic of superheroes to tuning into horror weekends, children go through an immersive experience through television and live in the bubble of their own world. Sometimes, this bubble becomes a cause of concern depending on the types of shows being watched.
Television builds character and personality and even has the power to change attitudes and perspective towards life. Taking extra care will ensure your child enjoys TV shows without being exposed to the ill effects of watching TV.
What Role Does Television Play in Your Child’s Life?
If your child is watching crime drama or horror flicks and has nightmares during bedtimes, then you can be sure something is wrong with their television habits. A significant portion of children’s time is spent in front of the TV, and it definitely shapes up their personality and attitude. The right kind of television programs imbue social and environmental awareness in kids and even promote social, emotional, and cognitive development holistically. Ensuring a healthy balance of TV time assigned to kids is important towards their development since you don’t want them to turn into couch potatoes and skip healthy social and physical activities.
Positive Effects of Television on Kids
Some of the many advantages of television for children are:
From Sesame Street to Dora The Explorer and Arthur, kids’ entertainment shows teach children a plethora of skills ranging from handling emotional trauma, interacting with peers, navigating through tough situations, and stimulating their imaginations through interactive quizzes and thinking patterns. Entertainment shows keep your kids engaged, teach them new skills, and let them have fun – all in one package!
Educational shows inspire kids to take action and engage in productive behaviours. If your child doesn’t like traditional teaching methods, then educational programs can be a great way to let them learn while having fun. Educational channels like Wild Kratts, Sid The Science Kid, Hanya Kamu, and Mickey Mouse Clubhouse teach kids problem-solving and provide them with a strong foundation in mental math and analytic thinking.
Watching sports shows such as football, cricket, and volleyball can be a great way to generate interest towards outdoor activities. Sports shows encourage kids to be active and healthy, thus enabling them to engage in physical behaviours which, down the line, bring emotional and physical well-being.
4. Culture Fever
Does your kid enjoy exploring and travelling? Introduce them to the wonders of the world through travel and cultural shows. Learning about other cultures will enhance social learning and development skills, encouraging your child to become a holistic thinker and interact with international peers in a friendly-fashion.
From cooking, baking, arts and crafts to music and theatre, creativity is the cornerstone of TV shows. Art channels and shows involving music composing, drawing, and painting stimulate the mind and encourage children to answer their inner calling.
6. Improved Academic Performance
When TV is watched right, emotional and mental well-being follows. This leads to improved academic performance. According to researchers, children who watch informative and educational shows have been proven to outperform peers on multiple standardized tests and even perform at peak levels through junior and high school.
7. Healthy Stress Relief
TV shows provide a healthy emotional outlet for kids who go through emotional or mental stress in school or outdoor environments. A healthy dose of TV can do wonders for their mood and emotional problems and protect them from emotional stress which can result in them having to take anti-depressants or engaging in self-harm.
8. Learn About Technology and Latest Trends
With wide access to an ocean of content on TV, children pick up tools and techniques related to using the latest technologies and stay up to date with social and environmental trends. Kids become more knowledgeable than their predecessors and achieve informational enlightenment through the TV.
9. Language and Emotional Skills
If your child is learning a new language or mimicking speech patterns, you can assist him/her to understand vocabulary and sentence formation nuances through language programs and movies. Further, positive TV shows reinforce healthy emotional behaviours and teach kids social skills which are crucial to their future success.
10. Keeps Them Engaged
If your child is constantly ranting and prancing around the house and can’t keep quiet for a single minute, then letting them watch TV to relieve boredom is a creative solution. This will keep them engaged without harming their cognitive development. However, you will need to ensure that this is practised only occasionally and does not become an addiction.
11. Encourages Social Participation
Kids who watch characters performing productively and being their best on TV try to mimic those behaviours in real life. This applies to competitive tasks and events as well. For example, if their favourite TV character is performing well in exams and participates in sports and social events, your kids will mimic those behaviours too and develop into well-rounded individuals.
12. Develops Personality and Fosters Independent Thinking
TV shows foster independent thinking skills and teach kids to think outside the box. These skills are vitally important in a world that puts focus on creativity and thinking from different perspectives.
Negative Effects of Television on Kids
Some of the many disadvantages of television for children are:
1. Steals Time
Children who spend too much time in front of the television miss out on life’s opportunities. If your child is spending too much time watching TV, he/she may lose precious time which could have been spent on more productive tasks like mingling with friends, working on homework, playing outside and similar activities.
2. Lack of Language and Social Skills
This might seem contradictory to the positive effects of TV mentioned earlier; however, it applies mainly to children under the age of two years. Babies’ brains are in the developmental stages before the age of two. This is when the brain rewires and fosters social and emotional learning. The TV does not smile, speak, or interact with your child psychologically on a personal level. This affects their mental states a lot since they’re vulnerable at this point in life. Even in later years, spending too much time watching TV can limit your child’s social interaction, thus affecting language and social skills in the long run.
3. Kills Creativity and Imagination
If your child spends too much time on TV instead of going outside and exploring the real-world, they’ll be missing out on a lot of opportunities in daily life. Since ideas are presented in front of the screen, children who watch TV excessively do not stimulate their minds or come up with fresh ideas on their own, thus passively watching and not actively participating.
4. Lack of Focus
Kids who spend 2 to 3 hours or more time every day in front of the screen report facing a lack of focus in classroom environments. Such kids may also have a greater likelihood of being diagnosed with ADHD (Attention Deficit/Hyper Activity Disorder). This lack of focus and low attention span translates to other domains besides academics too, such as sports. The child may be unwilling to participate in creative and mentally calming activities like crafts too.
Productivity is all about reaching new heights in life. If your child is constantly watching TV and not achieving milestones in their academic, social, or emotional lives, then all that time in front of the screen goes waste.
Kids who watch too much TV are at the risk of developing obesity and other health disorders. It’s not uncommon to find young kids transitioning into teenage couch potatoes during their high school to sophomore years when they watch TV excessively.
7. Heart and Eye Health Risks
Kids who watch too much TV are at the risk of developing Lazy Eye Syndrome. In this condition, the child experiences blurry or reduced vision that is not correctable by glasses or lenses. TV addiction also promotes lack of exercise and a sedentary lifestyle, both of which impact the heart and the brain. This can eventually lead to cardiovascular problems and narrow arteries.
8. Negative Behaviour
According to research conducted by Tohoku University, Japan, watching too much TV alters brain structures and promotes negative behaviour, especially violence and aggressiveness. Kids who watch shows containing content inappropriate for minors are at higher risk of this problem.
9. Affects Self-Image
TV shows exaggerate reality and provide a distorted view of the world. Shows that reveal picture-perfect scenes and too-good-to-be-true scenarios may make kids feel inadequate and not worthy enough.
10. Emotional Changes
Kids who are exposed to shows highlighting sex, drugs, and alcohol abuse are vulnerable to emotional changes. Since they are too young to understand many of these issues, they may get an altered view of reality and be influenced psychologically.
11. Poor Academic Performance
Spending a lot of TV time results in a lack of participation in other activities. Kids sometimes skip school and homework when addicted to TV, and this lowers their academic performance.
12. Causes Learning Problems
Learning problems from excess TV range from passive listening and underdeveloped listening skills to a lack of fine motor and creative skills due to not engaging in physical and mentally stimulating activities. Kids who develop ADHD through watching too much TV lack the ability to concentrate and focus during studies.
What Can Parents Do to Protect Their Child from Bad Effects of Television?
- Limit the number of hours in front of the TV to one to two a day and ensure kids watch quality programs rather than unhealthy or inappropriate shows
- Watch TV with kids to monitor the content they watch and encourage watching informational, educational, and interactive content
- Keep TV sets away from the bedroom and turn off the TV at the end of the show to stop TV addiction
- Keep TV watching as a reward for achieving milestones in daily life rather than as a pastime
Should Babies and Toddlers Watch T.V.?
Babies and toddlers should not watch TV before the age of 2 years and above since their brains are developing and they are learning emotional and social skills. This is the time to interact with them, care for their emotional needs, and teach them to read, write, and draw. This is when their brains are most vulnerable and get influenced easily. A major chunk of emotional and cognitive development occurs in this phase, and thus watching TV is not recommended before two years of age.
Watching TV is an activity that’s best done in moderation. By ensuring that your kids watch quality programs and spend their time productively, you will make great strides as a parent and enable your child to achieve milestones in their learning phases. Watching TV is a daily part of life, and if integrated with care and moderation, kids end up learning a lot from it.