As we can see, television is playing a very big role in our life. Television has its good side. It can be entertaining and educational, and can open up new worlds for children, giving them a chance to travel the globe, learn about different cultures, and gain exposure to ideas they may never encounter in their own community. However, parents need to understand the negative influence of children’s TV, even children’s programming, because children are likely to learn things from TV that parents don’t want them to learn. Television can affect children’s health, school work and behavior in negative ways.
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Excess television viewing can influence children’s physical and mental health. On one hand, it could affect badly children’s physical health. It is easy for children to be myopic if they watch TV more than two hours in a day. Children will spend less time on sports and TV time also takes away from participating in sports, music, art or other activities that require practice to become skillful. And they may have high caloric intake if they are watching TV at dinner. A person would burn fewer calories while watching TV than when just sitting quietly, doing nothing (Langholt, 2010). So it may contribute to obesity problems. Children who watch more TV are more likely to be overweight. TV is a bigger factor than diet. Estimates of risk indicate that more 60% of overweight incidence in this population can be linked to excess television viewing time (Dietz, 1996). Many TV ads encourage unhealthy eating habits. Two-thirds of the 20,000 TV ads an average child sees each year are for food and most are for high-sugar foods. After-school TV ads target children with ads for unhealthy foods and beverages, like fast food and sugary drinks. On the other hand, watching TV has bad influence on children’s mental health, too. Children who are addicted to TV are hard to communicate with their family members and classmates. One study found that TV viewing before age three slightly hurt several measures of later brain development. Before the age of three, children’s brain develops rapidly, forming connections and pathways that will assist with learning later in life. Studies indicate that exposure to television, with its fast-moving images and rapid actions, actually rewires children’s brain to crave this hyperactive stimulation. The benefits of parent-child interactions are proven, and under age three, talking, singing, reading, listening, to music or playing are far more important to children’s development than any TV show. The American Academy of Pediatrics strongly recommends that parents keep their kids away from all TV until after the age of two (Bushman, 2010). Children under age eight can’t tell the difference between reality in our lives and fantasy on TV. In this case, children may be frightened or upset by TV stories easily, and the symptoms include bad dreams, anxious feelings, being afraid of being alone, withdrawing from friends, and missing school.
TV viewing may replace activities that we know help with school work, such as reading, doing homework, pursuing hobbies, and getting enough sleep. First, it makes children read fewer books and have lower grades in school. Watching TV at age four is one factor to be associated with bulling in grade school. Second, children may become more seeing than thinking. It may prevent children from the development of their imagination and creativity. Finally, one research study found that TV’s effects on education are long term. The study found that watching TV as a child affected educational achievement at age 26. Watching more TV in childhood increases chances of dropping out of school and decreased chances of getting a college, even after controlling for confounding factors (Bushman, 2010).
Children who watch more sensitive TV may have behavior problems. First of all, they will imitate the violence they see on TV. Programs designed for children more often contain violence than adult TV. Young children may even try to emulate the things they see on TV, not realizing that they risk injuring themselves or others. According to the AAP, Extensive research evidence indicates that media violence can contribute to aggressive behavior, desensitization to violence (Bushman, 2010). Watching violent shows is also linked with having less empathy toward others. A university of Michigan researcher demonstrated that watching violent media can affect willingness to help others in need (Bushman, 2010). What’s more, alcohol advertising, including TV ads, contributes to an increase in drinking among youth. TV ads are a major factor in normalizing alcohol use in the minds of children, adolescents and college students. Alcohol has damaging effects on young people’s developing brains-and the damage can be permanent. Children who watch TV are more likely to smoke. Even though tobacco ads are banned on TV, young people still see people smoking on programs and movies shown on television. Recent research has shown that exposure to smoking in movie characters increases the likelihood that viewers will associate themselves with smoking (Langholt, 2010). Kids who watch more TV start smoking at an earlier age. The relationship between television viewing and age of starting smoking is stronger than that of peer smoking, parental smoking, and gender. Finally, children get lots of information about sexuality from television. Because most parents don’t talk to their kids about sex and most school don’t offer complete sex education programs, they get much information about sex from TV. However, watching sex on TV increases the chances that a teen will have sex, and may cause teens to start having sex at younger ages (Bushman, 2010).
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In summary, television viewing affects children’s physical and mental health, school performance and behavior in negative ways. Therefore, children should replace TV time with creative and physical activities, reading and playing games with positive values and educational content.