The Impact of Television on Kids

Brian kissmanTelevision can have a powerful affect on kids. It can be positive and it can be negative.

The key for parents is to make smart choices to monitor the types of programs their children watch and how often their children watch TV.

As parents and educators, it is important that we guide children to watch television that is healthy and age appropriate. Limits need to set so that children do not watch too much television, which prevents opportunities to develop social skills. And, when valuable television is watched, it can be more worthwhile when viewed as family and then the content is reflected upon and discussed.

THE POSITIVE

Educational Content
More and more channels, on TV and streamed over the Internet, are dedicated to educational content. We all know about Sesame Street, but Netflix and YouTube are offering more and more options. The educational content includes subjects like art and craft, science, history, geography and math. And for older kids, watching objective news channels is a great source for current events.

Sports
Sports is an amazing option for kids to watch TV. Different sports like tennis, soccer, baseball and basketball can be very educational when viewed by groups of peers or with parents; this often results in conversation around the action of the game and competition.

Culture
Television can expose children to culture. TV can take your child to different countries and educates them about various cultures in the world. With the right choice of programs, your child can learn about people and their traditions, lifestyles and attitudes.

THE NEGATIVE

Less Physical Activity
The term “couch potato” never existed before television was invented. TV can be a consuming habit!

  • Lack of proper physical activity and too much screen time can lead to vision problems
  • Research has also indicated that there is a direct connection between TV time and obesity in kids

Brain Development and Behavior
Excessive watching of any television program, good or bad, affects your child’s brain development, according to studies. Especially the first couple of years in your child’s life, which are very important for brain development.

  • Researchers in Japan found that watching TV too much can alter the brain structure.
  • Another study by The John Hopkins University states that toddlers who watch television for more than two hours a day can have behavioral problems.

Distorted View of the World
You cannot control what is shown on television. You may also not always be able to control what your kid watches on the TV. Research shows that:

  • Early exposure to inappropriate content that has sex, alcohol, and drugs, could bring up questions in children, the answers to which may be too complicated for them to understand. The worst part is that early exposure can even give them a distorted view of these elements.
  • The violence portrayed in a “positive” light in superhero movies and the like give them an idea that it is “okay” to be violent. So kids watching TV shows based on superheroes may start believing that violence is not bad.
  • It may even encourage violent and aggressive behavior in some kids, which can be detrimental to their social development. In some children, this behavior may surface immediately while in some, it could come up during the later years.

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