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Taming the Tube

:
Effects of TV on
Children
Debbie Richardson, M.S.
Oklahoma Cooperative Extension
Child Development Assistant Specialist
April 2005
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Television
 News
 TV Shows
 Reality Shows
 Music Videos
 Commercials - $41.8 billion spent on
advertising in 2002
 Sports
 Other – Movies, Cartoons, etc.
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The Age of Television
 TV’s are larger, have more realistic color and images than ever
before
 248 million TV sets in U.S. households
 98% of households have at least one tv
 Extreme Cable - access to dozens, even hundreds, of channels
and video movies – 1,937 broadcasting networks and stations
 Violence and childhood obesity in the U.S. has increased

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The average American child:
Spends:
 28 hours a week with TV
 30 hours a week in a classroom
 39 minutes a week talking one–on–one with a parent

By high school graduation:
 Spends18,000 hours in front of a TV set, and only
13,000 hours in a classroom
 Observes 200,000 violent acts and 16,000 murders

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The influence of media on children
 Dramatically influences children at all ages.

 Children are physically passive, yet mentally alert
when watching TV.

 Repetition – violence becomes so familiar that it
becomes normal

 Reduced boundaries between adult and child
knowledge.

 Both quantity and quality matter.
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Heavy viewers of TV

Kids watching 4 or more hours
per day…
 Put in less effort on school work
 Have poorer reading skills
 Play less well with friends
 Have fewer hobbies and activities
 More likely to be overweight

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Television & Child Development
 Vulnerability in the younger years
 Importance of early nutrition and eating habits
 In early years children are sensitive to
stimulation and modeling, and cannot filter
out the negative
 Infants and toddlers need response and
reinforced stimulation – two things TV cannot
provide

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Television & Child Development
 Walking, talking, & thinking are realized
and learned through real interactions
with people
 Sensory, emotional, & physical
deprivation and/or overstimulation can
occur with television

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Birth to 18 months
 Lights, color, and sound of the
television are appealing
 Can recognize characters but cannot
understand content
 Parent-child interaction during this time
is crucial

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18 months to 3 years
 By 3, most have a “favorite” program
 Children can begin extracting meaning
from what they watch
 Likely to imitate behaviors seen on TV
 Learn new words and language skills

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Three to Six Year Olds
 Play is essential – experience is the teacher
 Exploration facilitates understanding how the
world works
 Television does not offer opportunities for
active play and interactive exploration
 Can recognize “good” and “bad” characters
 Most likely to act aggressively after watching
aggressive characters

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Six to Eight
 TV time drops because of school
attendance and activities
 Usually want to watch non-educational
television
 Effects of media violence are especially
critical in this time

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Nine to Twelve
 Believe that what they see is a
reflection of “real” life
 Develop television heroes/role models
 Self-esteem & identity are influenced
greatly
 Critical age for television influence on
body image
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Effects on Body Image
& Gender Identity
 Boys
– Violence is acceptable
– Body dissatisfaction
– Treatment of women
 Girls
– Ideal Weight & Image
– Gender Roles – stereotypes
– Effects on self-esteem

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Does the television still have hope?
 Government action
– The 1990 Children's Television Act was the
first congressional act that specifically
regulated children's television.
– Imposed an obligation on broadcasters to
serve the educational and informational
needs of children.

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 Parental involvement
– Attention to content and ratings
– Regular communication about content
– Limit setting & monitoring
– Providing alternative activities
 Educational programming
– Children who regularly watch curriculum-education
based programs have better problem-solving
skills, language abilities, and social skills.
– Examples of programs used in research proven to
be beneficial
• Blue’s Clues, Dora the Explorer, Arthur, and Clifford

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Issues to be
concerned about
 Media violence and the affects on children
and the society as a whole
 Increasing rates of childhood obesity,
contributed to television viewing
 Likelihood of inappropriate content becoming
more common instead of less
 Busier lives which means less monitoring of
television watching
 Others?
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Tips for Taming the Tube
 Avoid using TV as a babysitter
 Know what kids are watching
 Set guidelines about what they can watch
 Decide in advance what is “good TV”
 No TV during meals
 Encourage alternative activities
 Create a TV coupon system
 Have control of your own TV viewing – be a
role model

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Ratings & V-chips
 Both are advances in improving
childrens’ exposure to negative
television
 Both are now standard
 Similar v-chips are available for
DVD/VHS movies – language is taken
out

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 Ratings for audience appropriateness
– TV-G
– TV-PG
– TV-14
– TV-MA
 Ratings for content
– L – language
– V – violence
– AS – adult situations
– N – nudity
– S – Sexual Content
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Resources
 Websites
 Books
 Initiatives/Advocacy
 TV-Turnoff Week,
– April 25 - May 1, 2005

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“This instrument can teach, it can illuminate; yes, and it
can even inspire. But it can do so only to the extent
that we humans are determined to use it to those
ends. Otherwise, it is merely wires and lights in a
box. There is a great, perhaps decisive battle to be
fought, against ignorance, intolerance and
indifference. This weapon of television can be
useful.”

Edward R. Murrow, Television Reporter

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