Impact of Television (TV) on Children – Positive and Negative Effects

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 for concern, depending on the types of shows being watched.

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Television builds character and personality and even has the power to change attitudes and perspectives towards life. Taking extra care will ensure that your child enjoys TV shows without being exposed to the ill-effects of watching TV.

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Video: Positive and Negative Effects of Television on Children

What Role Does Television Play in a Child’s Life?

If your child is watching crime dramas or horror flicks and has nightmares during bedtime, then you can be sure that something is wrong with his television habits. A considerable portion of children’s time is spent in front of the TV, and it definitely shapes 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 and play/study is important to their development since you don’t want them to turn into couch potatoes and skip healthy social and physical activities.

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Positive Effects of Television on Kids

Some of the many advantages of television for children are:

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1. Entertainment

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!

2. Education

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 make him 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.

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3. Sports

Watching sports shows such as football, cricket, and volleyball can be a great way to generate interest in 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.

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5. Creativity

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 consumed in a responsible way, 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 middle and high school.

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7. Healthy Stress Relief

TV shows provide a healthy emotional outlet for kids who go through stress in school or outdoor environments. A healthy dose of TV can do wonders for a child’s mood and emotional problems and protect him from emotional stress which can impact him negatively.

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 trends. Kids become more knowledgeable and achieve informational enlightenment through the TV.

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9. Language and Emotional Skills

If your child is learning a new language or mimicking speech patterns, you can assist him 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 that are crucial to their success.

10. Keeps Them Engaged

If your child is constantly jumping around the house and can’t keep quiet for a single minute, letting him watch TV to relieve boredom is a creative solution. This will keep him engaged without harming his cognitive development. However, you will need to ensure that this is practised only occasionally and does not become a habit.

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11. Encourages Social Participation

Kids who watch characters perform 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 as well, thus helping with their development.

12. Develops Personality and Fosters Independent Thinking

TV shows foster independent thinking skills and teach kids to think outside the box. These skills are vital in a world that puts focus on creativity and thinking from different perspectives.

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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 may miss out on life’s opportunities. If your child is spending too much time watching TV, he may lose precious time which could have been spent on more productive tasks like mingling with friends, working on homework, playing outside and other similar activities.

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2. Lack of Language and Social Skills

This might seem contradictory to the positive effects of TV mentioned earlier, but 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 the child’s mental state since he is 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, he will not be able to develop a strong imagination. Since ideas are presented in front of the screen, children who watch TV excessively cannot stimulate their minds or come up with fresh ideas on their own, thus passively consuming and not actively creating.

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4. Lack of Focus

Kids who spend more than 2 to 3 hours in front of the screen on a daily basis often suffer from 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 bleeds into other domains besides academics, such as sports. The child may be unwilling to participate in creative and mentally calming activities like crafts as well.

5. Unproductive

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, all that time spent in front of the screen is simply time wasted.

6. Obesity

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 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 a 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, watching too much TV can alter the brain structure and promote negative behaviour – especially violence and aggression. Kids who watch shows containing content inappropriate for minors are at a 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 lives and too-good-to-be-true scenarios may make kids feel inadequate.

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 time watching TV may result in a lack of participation in other activities. Kids sometimes skip school and homework because of TV, and this adversely affects their academic performance.

12. Causes Learning Problems

Learning problems due to excess TV time range from passive listening and underdeveloped listening skills to a lack of fine motor and creative skills. This occurs when kids do not engage in physically and mentally stimulating activities. Kids who develop ADHD by watching too much TV lack the ability to concentrate and focus during studies.

What Can Parents Do to Protect Their Child From the Bad Effects of Television?

Parents can:

  • Limit the number of hours their child spends in front of the TV.
  • Ensure that their child is watching quality TV shows as opposed to inappropriate ones.
  • Watch TV with their child so that they are sure that the content being consumed is informational, educational, and interactive. This can also foster a bond between the parent and child.
  • Keep the TV set away from the bedroom and turn off the TV at the end of the show.
  • Help develop a healthy relationship between TV time and complete tasks.
  • Try not to make the rules too strict, as that can develop a negative relationship between the child and TV.

Should Babies and Toddlers Watch TV?

It is recommended that babies and toddlers below the age of two years avoid watching TV since their brains are developing and vulnerable. They are learning a lot of emotional and social skills, so this is the time to interact with them, care for their emotional needs, and encourage them to read, write, and draw. A major chunk of cognitive development occurs during this stage, which is why it is best that the TV is kept away from babies and toddlers younger than two years.

Watching TV is an activity best done in moderation. By ensuring that your child watches quality programmes and spends his time productively, you will ensure his proper growth and development. Watching TV is a daily part of life, and if integrated with care, your child can end up learning from it!

Resources and References: Kids Health