The Negative Effects of Television on Small Children Adriana. A. Rojas St. Joseph¶s College May 3, 2011 ENG 103



Abstract On this paper you will find the most relevant negative effects on small children who have been exposed to watch a lot of television and watch negative content at very stage in his or her childhood.This paperis being written based on research and studies made in the United States. Basically I am analyzing the point of view from the pediatrics¶ point of view. The paperalso contains some of the cause-effect of television on small children, and also contains effective solutions for this type of problem. The paper focuses more on babies, toddlers and pre-scholars. Some children are being exposed to television at very early stage in their childhood



Television and its negative consequences on small children For many years in the United States television has been used as a way of entertainment, a way to learn new things, explore the world, and learn about other cultures. ³In the United States,children watch television approximately for an average of three to four hours a day. By the time they reach high school, they will have watched more television than the time to be spent in school.´ (para. 1). The content and the excessive time spent in front a TV in early childhood havenegative effects later on. Everything in life needs to have a balance and television should not be an exception. There are so many negative outcomes on babies, toddlers and preschoolerswho watch TV for several hours and negative content, and some ofthe areas that will be affected are, the children¶s health, behavioral problems, his or her academic achievement, and play time. Tara (2010) said ³Toddlers who watch a lot of television were more likely to experience a range of problems by the fourth grade, including lower grades, poorer health and more problems with school bullies´.(para.1). On the other hand there is the side that claims that television is good as facilitator and good for language development. Rice &Woodsmall,argued that ³children can learn words or vocabulary from viewing educational programing, but TV viewing does not facilitate the development of grammar, and there was nothing to indicate that TV could ever replace natural language input in teaching children language´. (As cited in Evra, 2004, p.58). In general the negative effects are more than the positive ones according to the researchesthe negative effects are very harmful for kids for are exposed before age two. In the first place TV and its negative content also affect a child¶s behavior. Children mimic what they see on television, and there are many negative values that are being through TV



on the media. The problem with these values is if they are against your values, then it would be a danger for your child. Some of the negative values are: violence, sex, bad language, and stereotypes. Of course there is also positive content such as educational programs that promote academic and social behavior. Some of the programs are good for preschoolers according to Guernsey (2007) areBlue¶s Clues, Barney, Dora the Explorer, Dragon Tales, and Mister Rogers´ (p. 119). To give your perspective on just how much violence kids see on TV, consider this: The average American child will witness 200, 000 violent acts on television by age 18. Kids may become desensitized to violence and more aggressive. TV violence sometimes begs for imitation because violence is often promoted as a fun and effective way to get what you want´ (Gavin, 2008, ³How TV Affects Your Child,´ para. 7)

According to Evra (2004), depending on the level of understanding, ³television content and their own behavioral controls are not fully developed; the potential effect of violent portrayals may be considerably stronger for children than for adults.´ (Evra, 2004, p. 88). Because small children cannot differentiate between real or surreal, therefore they tend to mimic aggression they don¶t understand the effects of those actions. That is the reason children why should watch programs that are intended for their age. Van der Voort argues that ³between ages 9 and 12, an important one for changing perception and experience. As they mature over that time period, they understand more, they are less inclined to see television violence as realistic, they tend to be more detached and respond less emotionally.´ (p.88). Children at early age are when they absorb easily what is being taught by the media or by people. That is when their brain startsto developed, therefore, they will learn how to talk, think, behave, and socialize by what is surroundedthem.



Secondly by watching too much television and watching non educational programs when they are toddler children are more likely to do poorly in school. According to Marie (2002), ³the more television a child watches the poorer they would do in school all but one of the numerous studies cited in the section on educational achievement showed a negative relationship between television viewing and school achievement´ (p.108) If a child is spending too much time watching television therefore that means the child is not spending the time that he needs on studying, reading or different other activities. Reading and studying is very crucial on the child¶s performance at school. The more they read, the more they gain skills that will help them do better in school. The consequences are obvious if the child spends more time in front of the TV, he or she it would not perform as well as another student who does not watch too much TV. Children also need to play and use imagination in order to do better in a future in school;if they are not using their imagination that means they are not using their brain properly. These problems maybe causedbytelevisionaccording to Judith (2004).

³Less creativity and imagination, shorter attention spans with lower interest in less entertaining material, less perseverance and increased impulsivity with restlessness in class, visual processing skills that are not compatible with block print-based skills necessary for success in school, and increased apathy about school performance´(p .67).

When a child reads a book his or her imagination are more developed than by just watching TV. Marie (2002) shows how:

³A teen year old child reports on the effects of seeing television dramatizations of book he has previously read: The TVpeople leave a stronger impression. Once you¶ve seen a character on TV, he¶ll always look like that in your mind, even if you made a different



picture of him in your mind before, when you read the book yourself. The thing about a book is that you have so much freedom. You can make each character look exactly the way you want him to look. You¶re more in control of things when you read a book than when you see something on TV.

Lastly playing also plays a huge role on how kids will perform later on school that is the reason why I also wanted to mention as another negative effect of television. By watching only television children are not being able to play and use imagination. There was a question on the book ³The Plug in Drug´ by Marie Winn (2008) and that question is ³Supposed there wasn¶t any TV-What do you think your child would do with the time now spent watching TV?´ (p.18). the majority of mothers responded that the child would it be playing and of course if the child is watching television instead of playingit would not evelop his or her imagination. Playing other than having fun according to Marie (2008) ³involves a critical variety of behaviors that serve important time-filler that serve important purposes in the child¶s social, emotional, and intellectual development. (p.79). Imaginative playing means that the child is using his or her imagination therefore there is a more proactive action than just steering at the television¶s screen. It is a more active action that requires thinking and in the case that if is playing with another child it would developed his or her social skills. There are some children nowadays that are quite and not very social and this is because some of them only watch TV or used media as just his or her entertainment. By being in from of a television does not use the skills that a child needs to face the world. Secondly by watching too much television and watching non educational programs when they are toddler children are more likely to do poorly in school.. Television cannot be replaced by the human contact or interaction. Play time it is very necessary to acquire



all these skills that will help the child become independent, sociable, smart, friendly, and mostly importantly to learn that there are more choices out there than just seat in front of a screen.

Thirdly, another negative effect by watching TV is the children¶s health. Different studies have shown that when a child watches more than two hours per day, he or she will more likely to suffer from overweight. When children spend their free time by only watching TV, and do not exerciseor are not being active, the development is being affected and there are more chances to become overweight. Also, television commercials advertise candies, chocolates, and chips etc. and encourage children to eat junk food high on calories. The advertisement influences the child to do unhealthy choices as of what to eat. Childhood obesity can cause numerous health problems and social difficulties. Kids mimic what they see; if they see a commercial containing unhealthy food high on calories and high on sugar, and this food is what they child will tend to be eating or asking his/her mom to provide for snack while watching TV. According to Kyla (2010) researches, have suggested that ³Physical activity, sedentary behavior or television viewing predicted body mass index (BMI) among 3-to 7-year-old children, found that physical activity and TV viewing are most associated with overweight risk. TV was a bigger factor than diet. Inactivity and TV became stronger predictors as the children age (36)´. (Children who watch more TV are more likely to be overweight section, para.2). In addition, in commercials and television shows and movies feature characters attractive, healthy and successful drinking beer, smoking and talking about other drugs. According to Marie (2002) all these advertisers are only trying to reach ³consumer¶s early in life and imprinting a brand name on their consciousness is good business.(p.116). By watching all these commercials kids tend to have the consumer mentality and will be asking his or her parents to buy all that they see on television. The television is being used also as a way to do marketing for children. Children should not be



used as a market tool. Television for children should be change and avoid having all these marketing commercial that only are destroying children with unnecessary products. Children learn on television and in movies that smoking, drinking is good and they cannot see how destructive they are for health, education, and relationships. It is also true that the ads have a lot of sexual content. Television shows show sex as fun and exciting, rarely speaks of commitment and long-term relationships, contraception and how to prevent sexually transmitted diseases. So when parents talk about sexuality with their children, the messages have been overshadowed by sex messages they have seen for years on television.

It can¶t be denied that some parents may rely on television when they need to do things at home or just when they need a break, however there some solutions that will help transmitting good values when television is being used on the children. The American Academic of

Pediatrics (2009) suggests that children less than two year of age should not watched television at all and also suggest that children over the age of two should watch television maximum two hours daily. Some parents have putted their babies in front a TV screen without knowing the effects. Some of the solutions is what it was being used before television existed and are old fashion, but trying different tactics may reduce the time and the quality of the time spent in front of television. Choose the programs for educational programs and nonviolent. Consider

purchasing a TV that has the option of blocking of programs showing violence and sex. Tune in to public television or rent videos of educational programs without advertising. Do not put TVs in children's rooms; if the child does not see a TV, they are less likely to want to watch TV. Put the TV in a place that is easy to control. Watch TV with your child and talk to him about the content. Make sure that what you see is appropriate. Talk to your child about the program for comment, to clarify what is real and what is not and to allay their fears. Talk especially about the



way they are portrayed on TV violence, sex, drinking and other drugs and food, ask questions about the message and explain your own values. This type of question will be especially for older children. Propose other forms of entertainment, rather than get used to watch television, help to undertake other activities. PBS¶s website suggest to ³read online and print reviews of shows, looking for ones appropriate for your child¶s age and stage of development.´(Ways to shape TV habits section (para.1). There is a website that contains helpful information on how to monitor your child¶s program. The name of the website is on this website you can find the rating of the programs, in that way you could help your child to select the appropriate programs. Another way to help your child is by explaining to your child what he should not watch on the TV. It is amazing how fast toddlers learn, when a program is not appropriate for their age they should not be watching those types of programs. Communication is the key for success and explaining to toddlers why certain program is not good to them they will learn from parents what is appropriate and what is not. If parents at early age have an open communication with his/her children they will understand what is good and bad for them but if you let them see whatever is there at an early age then, when they get older it will be harder to understand because that was what they have seen in their early stages. A solution to the viewing of TV and the link of being overweight is to limit the time the child is on the TV. By setting up rules, the child will be exposed to discipline, get involved in different activities, such as playing with the child or enroll in a sport that she/he likes. If you child is a toddler try to get videos that make the child more active like singing and dancing programs in that way your child will not become inactive, and watch the amount of calories of what he is eating as well. Over the history, television has been used in different ways such as recreational and educational but if it is not utilized well with children the consequences will be negative. Parents



should take the initiative to learn how to guide the child by limiting the time, and monitoring the content as well. Researches have shown that babies should not be exposed to television and maximum two hours is recommended for a child. When children are small is when they start to build either good or bad habits. This age is like a foundation of how they will perform when they get older, therefore children should spend more time studying, reading, playing, and socializing more than being in front of a screen or television, and if they are going to be in front a screen should be for educationalpurposes. There is no way parents will get rid of their television but knowing how to use it for the best it will be a good way to start. Television has negative and positive sides; however, the negative effects on small children have negative consequences later on. According to research the content and the time spent in front a television have negative effects later on his or her childhood.



References American Academy of Child and Adolesent Psychiatric.(2001, March/April). Children And Watching TV [Facts for families]. Retrieved from website: children_and_watching_tv American Academy of Pediatrics. (2010, December 2). Media Education: What Parents Can Do [some suggestions to help you keep your youngster's viewing in balance: ]. Retrieved from American Academy of Pediatrics website: Media-Education-What-Parents-Can-Do.aspx. Evans Schmidt, M. E., Michael Rich, Rifas-Shiman, S. L., Emily Oken, & Taveras, E. M. (2009). Television Viewing in Infancy and Child Cognition at 3 Years of Age in a US Cohort .In An article [To examine the extent to which infant television viewing is associated with]. Retrieved from American Academic of Pediatrics website: Evra, V., & Page, J. (2004).Television and Child Development. Mahwah, N.J: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. Guernsey, L. (2007). Into the Minds of Babes. Philadelphia: Basic Books. Influence of Limit-Setting and Participation in Physical Activity on Youth Screen Time, [Radio broadcast]. (2010, July 7). Naples, Fl: Healthy Radio. Retrieved from Health Radio database.



PBS.(n.d.).TV & Preschoolers. Retrieved April 25, 2011, from PBS website: tp:// Tara Parker-Pope., (2010, May/June 5). TV for Toddlers Linked With Later Problems [Family Matters, Television ]. Retrieved from The New York Times database. University of California Riverside. (2009, October 2). Ellen Wartella on Media Influence on Children [Video file]. Retrieved from YouTube database. Winn, M. (2002). It¶s not What you Watch. In The Plug-In Drug (p. 3) [Introduction]. New York: Peguin Group.

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