You are on page 1of 9

Television has been around since as early as 1926.

John Logie Baird from London
demonstrated the first ever television set. Since then TV (short for television) has been a part of
an everyday life schedule for many of children and adults. There are many different shows and
many different genres of shows for the public to watch. Some include reality TV, fantasy, music,
romantic, and child centered shows. Today almost all American homes have at least one
television set in their house hold. Half of the population owns three or more sets (GoodmanBryan 2011). Television in America today has changed tremendously since it was first
introduced eighty-eight years ago. There are more channels today than ever before and more
shows showing at the same time. Also instead of having only one live show at a time on air, they
can now show multiple live shows and replayed episodes, at the same time. By inventing the
first ever TV set, John Logie Baird set the world up for many questions and ideas about how
things can have a certain affect or a long lasting effects on children and adults. Baird has forever
changed how the human population was entertained, learned, and communicated new ideas. This
can included both good and bad ways the world has transformed throughout time. Although TV
has been around for a very long time it seems scientists and researchers are still looking into how
it affects someone’s life in positive and negative ways. Scientists are specifically looking into
how it affects a child’s development and how TV can impair or prepare children for their future
with useful or unimportant and impairing skills.
Studies have shown that weekends versus school days, and the school year versus
summertime have significant impacts on how much television a child watches. According to the

survey from Smartgirl, 21 children watch no TV during the school week, 137 watch 1-2 hours,
101 children watch 3-4 hours, 53 watch 5-6 hours, and 27 students said they usually watch 7 or
more hours a week when they have school. The students used in the survey was a mix of all
different ethnic back rounds and races. This makes sure that the survey did not just include
white Americans and use stereotypes to prove their point. Through out the summer and on
winter break the Smartgirl article took another survey and the results were that only 12 students
watched zero hours of television, 69 watched 1-2 hours, 113 watches 3-4 hours, 74 watches 5-6,
and 76 children watches 7 or more hours of television each day that they do not have school.
Another major influence in how much television children watch is how easy it is for you
to view or get ahold of a TV set. Smartgirl took another survey to see how many house holds
have more than one TV. About one or two homes have no TV sets, 30 have 1, 73 have 2, 90 has
3, and about 35 homes around the world have six or more television sets in their own house hold.
That proves that many children do not have a hard time finding a place to watch television.
Especially since 58 percent of children have their own TV in their room today (Smartgirl). Some
people might say that having a television in a child’s bedroom might lead to trouble down the
road. Other prefer to monitor what their child watches to help cause less harm, and still others do
not do anything to protect their child from what’s on the TV. 16 children said that their parents
monitor what they’re watching at all times. 19 said that their parents often monitor it, 81
children revealed that the parents rarely come to see what they are watching, and a whopping
144 kids said that their parents never come to see what their child is watching (Smartgirl). Some
of the different television shows can help a young child develop or they can cause harm to their

development. Some aspects in which it can help them is that they are able to learn about real life
situations depending on the type of show they are watching. It can cause them to realize how
serious and even is or how they should be feeling. While some shows help child development,
others harm it. Television can harm child development by putting less stress or a less serious
view on an event. By putting a less serious view on an event it is teaching the children that it
was not very important and that they don’t have to act or take it seriously. An example of an
event like this would be a hurricane or an earthquake.
Along with learning about emotions and relationships from parents and teachers and
friends, children also learn about emotions from watching television (Wilson 2008). Research
has shown that children such as at a preschool age are able to identify and differentiate emotions
from watching television characters. Acouple shows that help children develop are “Sesame
Street” and “Elmo” (Wilson 2008). Although some say TV has a bad impact on children
developmental psychologists and media scholars have argued that screen media (such as
television shows) play a crucial role in children’s emotional development. ‘Sesame Street’ once
did an episode about big birds home getting ruined from a hurricane that hit New York City.
This showed the children about how serious a hurricane is. It also showed children what they
can do to help big bird or the other people that lost their home in New York City. It taught
children the emotion of sadness, and helpfulness. But not all shows are this helpful at brining
children the educational and serious side of events. Children learn more of these socioemotional lessons from their favorite educational rated show than from their favorite

entertainment based shows (Wilson 2008). A study was done that showed a child who viewed
an educational program based on an earthquake and how the child’s emotions were about
earthquakes after, versus, a child who viewed an entertainment based show about earthquakes.
The study showed that the child who watched the educational program took the event of an
earthquake more serious than the child who viewed a humorous plot about earthquakes (Wilson
2008). Even as little as one episode can change a child’s view about emotions in real life. This
is why parents need to monitor what their young child is watching more although it has been
proven that children can transfer what they learn from emotional portrayals on television to their
beliefs about emotional events in real life. None of these experiments that have been a case of a
longitudinal study, which is when a researcher follows a cohort of individuals over a long period
of time (Wilson 2008).
Along with television affecting a child’s emotional development, it can also affect a
child’s social development. Learning to share emotions with others is part of what makes
children effective social agents. Television has been criticized for portraying physical aggression
as an entertaining solution to problems. The National Television Violence Study found that 60
percent of programs across twenty-six channels contained some physical aggression (Wilson
2008). These shows are not just adult oriented but some are for children as well, such as
superhero cartoon and others like ‘Tom and Jerry.’ In total only 18 percent of PBS programming
contains violence, which is good compared to channels such as HBO, broadcast network shows,
and basic cable shows that have 84, 51, and 63 percent violence in them (Wilson 2008). When
children are exposed to violent entertainment a theory comes into play. This theory is called

‘Social learning’ theory. This explains how children learn ideas, values emotions, and behaviors
by observing others around them. Along with violence apart of the effects that television has on
a child’s development, it also affects them with social aggression. Social aggression involves
harming others feelings through social exclusion, gossip, or friendship manipulation. These types
of behavior came from television shows such as ‘Mean Girls’ and ‘Lizzie McGuire.’ Although
these types of social aggression are more common in girls than boys, it is still a problem (Wilson
2008). When children see these types of social aggression or violence on television they think
it’s ok to be able to do it themselves and they think it’s ‘cool’ to do.
The first three years of life are the most important for brain development. In the past
fifteen years infants and toddlers have been watching more TV than ever before which has a
negative effect on how they develop (Goodman-Bryan 2011). When infants have been exposed
to television too early they began to have delays in language development and kindergarten
readiness skill, which puts them farther back in life than other children. Early exposure to TV
has also been linked to attention disorders and sleep problems in children and adults (GoodmanBryan 2011). Television may be a better educator for children older than three years old but for
infants and toddlers it may stop healthier activities from taking place and set the stage for heavier
television use throughout childhood. The America Academy of Pediatricians recommends that
children under age two do not watch television and that older children should only watch it for
one or two hours. Also older children should not watch entertainment purpose television, they
should watch quality programming as a source of education when away from school (GoodmanBryan 2011).

Television not only has a negative impact on teaching children emotions, social life,
academic achievement, and development. It also impacts the child’s health and nutrition. When
children watch their favorite TV shows, they also watch the commercials that come during the
show. Approximately 1 out of every 5 hours of television is devoted to commercials (Peterson).
The average child watches 28 hours of TV a week or 4 hours a day. That means that your child
will see roughly 22,000 commercial messages a year, and more than half of these commercials
are about edible foods (Peterson). Seeing food on television and seeing how the actors eat it and
if they enjoy it leads us to believe that we can be like the actor and eat the same food. Many of
these foods that are advertised are full of fat and have very few beneficial nutrients. By seeing
these foods on television, viewers go out and buy the item to taste its delicious taste for
themselves. Which in the end leads them to buy it more often and have a poor diet. A poor diet
can lead to overeating, obesity, and disease. As a child, they need to stay healthy and learn
positive choice behaviors or they may end up with a terrible outcome from the influences that the
television has brought them. Along with bad eating habits, a TV also distracts children from
going out and getting prober exercise to keep themselves in shape. This too can lead to
overeating, obesity, and disease.
Many factor affect how much television is viewed by the public such as the availability of
free time, low income, class status, low education, emotional difficulties, and lack of structured
social interactions (Chayko). Many of these causes are about why adults watch television, but as
a child grows up seeing how much their parents watch TV they are going to think it is normal
and they will take on the same habits. As older children watch TV to stay up with the pop

culture and the new ‘hip’ things, it is affecting them more then they know. In infants and
toddlers, TV viewing affects how they grow up and it could possibly delay their brain growth.
But in general with everybody too much television causes problems in the emotional, social, and
physical stages both in positive and negative ways.

Allison Arquitt

Child development

Time: 1:00 Tuesday, Thursday

How television affects children development

Reference sheet:

Chayko, M. (1993) How you “Act Your Age” When You Watch TV. Vol. 8.

Peterson, P. Jeffrey, B. , Bridgwater C., Dawson, B. (1984) “How Pronutrition Television
Programming Affects Children’s Dietary Habits.” Developmental psychology. Vol 20.

Goodman-Bryan, M. (2011) Infants, Toddlers and Television. Urban Child Institute.

Smartgirl. “Report on TV land” (2012)

Wilson, B. (2008). Media and Children’s Aggression, Fear, and Altruism. Vol. 18.