Isn't it time to turn off the TV?
A question was posed at the beginning of a research study on the possible negative effects of children's television viewing habits.
“If there was something that you, as a parent, could do to decrease your child's risk of cancer, increase their level of education and prevent them from getting involved with sex, drugs and alcohol until an age of responsibility, would you? Even if it meant turning off the TV?”
According to the Department of Education, our children are watching three to five hours of television each day. Besides the negative findings stated in the first paragraph, research is also correlating this amount of TV time to obesity, stunted development of brains, stunted development of social skills, low self-esteem and Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder.
In an article titled, “Television Viewing Does Lead to ADD Symptoms,” it explains a study in which 2,000 children were observed. The researchers discovered that for every hour of television watched between the ages of 1-3, the child had a 10 percent higher chance of developing Attention Deficit Disorder by age 7. Higher amounts of television viewing corresponded with more pronounced attention problems.
According to White Dot, a campaign devoted to shedding light on the negative aspects of television viewing, TV produces several rapid scene shifts that cause the child's developing brain to consider such shifts as normal. This can actually change the neural passageways and suppresses a child's ability to think problems through quietly and in his own mind.
Our kids need to be engaged in activities that develop their bodies and brains, and when they are in front of the tube, that is not happening. The Parents as Teachers National Center says that young children need to “explore, move, manipulate, smell, touch and repeat as they learn. Studies have found that watching television does not increase attention, promote social skills, or foster creative play.”
In addition, TV can discourage and replace reading. Reading requires much more thinking than television, and we know that reading fosters young people's healthy brain development. Kids from families that have the TV on a lot spend less time reading and being read to, and are less likely to be able to read.
According to the National Institute of Media and the Family, children who watch more than three hours of television a day are 50 percent more likely to be obese than kids who watch fewer than two hours. These researchers conclude that "more than 60 percent of overweight incidents can be linked to excess TV viewing."
I could go on and on discussing the massive amounts of research to try and convince you unequivocally that there is a negative effect of television viewing on our children. At what point do we finally say, “OHHHHHH ... I get it!”
So, let me go back to the first question, and leave you with something to ponder. “If there was something that you, as a parent, could do to decrease your child's risk of cancer, increase their level of education and prevent them from getting involved with sex, drugs and alcohol until an age of responsibility, would you? Even if it meant turning off the TV?”
Karen Spencer teaches speech/communication and education at Arizona Western College. She can be reached by e-mail at email@example.com.