REAL LIFE

Psychologists Reveal the Effect that Television Has on Children

Date December 1, 2017 18:18

Television has long been a normal part of our daily lives. And among its most insatiable consumers are our children. Sad to say, they eat up every crumb they can get!

Questions about the benefits and harmful effects of television are far from settled. Some experts say that television is extremely harmful to children. Others are convinced that it helps children grow and develop while their parents are busy with their own matters. What's the truth? 

It's better for children under the age of 8 or 9 to get beneficial information from children's books or interactive programs. 

Most modern psychologists believe that TV can educate and entertain children, but parents must control how much they watch.

Television's Influence on the Health and Mind of a Child

The idea that television is completely harmless to children is a huge misconception. First, watching a lot of TV creates an addiction to it. Second, television fosters the development of infantile characteristics and the inability to solve problems, since the image of life that it portrays is a long way from reality.

German psychologists have found that children who watch very little TV think more rationally and have a more realistic perception of the world. Their drawings of people are more lifelike; they include details in clothing, faces and hairstyles, while children who watch a lot of television draw people more like insects. They draw the extremities like sticks, and their eyes are just dots. 

Constantly watching TV promotes the development of autism, attention deficit disorder, obesity and diabetes.  

Experts have noted that addiction to TV leads to the early onset of puberty in girls. 

Spending a lot of time in front of the TV screen leads to children being more impulsive, more disorganized, and having very little motivation. Such children cannot comprehend or interpret facts and images, which hinders the development of their logical thinking ability.

Here are five reasons why children should watch television as little as possible:

1. Brain development

Television has a powerful effect on the psychosocial and mental development of children. According to one study, 10% of children under the age of 7 who constantly watch television are hyperactive and have behavioral problems.

The rhythmic stimulation of the retina from the light from the screen may cause photosensitive epilepsy. Even inadvertently watching TV can cause insomnia, headaches, obstinacy, impulsiveness, stuttering, cramps and even hysterical seizures. 

Another study established that children who watch a lot of TV have poorer academic performance and are less intelligent than children who watch TV an hour or less each day.

One danger of regular and frequent TV watching to school education is that it rearranges the priority of the representational systems. Simply put, if the child is more likely to learn about the world through hearing, television programs reorient the brain so that it perceives things in a predominantly visual way. 

Another negative consequence of excessive TV watching is a lack of language skills. Since reading is pushed into the background, it is difficult for children to develop a proper vocabulary. Since television is, as a rule, one-way communication, children are not able to communicate with their peers.

2. Obesity

It has long been proven that obesity is closely related to watching TV. Children sit in front of the "zombie box" for hours on end instead of playing and running around in the fresh air. Additionally, they are likely to eat a lot of unhealthy and high-calorie foods while watching TV, since the commercials they see advertise foods that are high in sugar, carbohydrates, and fat.

According to a study by Hernandez, watching television and playing video games increases the prevalence of obesity in children between 9 and 16 years of age.

Excessive TV watching also increases general tiredness and lowers motivation.

3. Violence, aggression, and fear

According to a study by George Gerbner, children's television programs show approximately 20 acts of violence every hour. American researchers calculate that the average American child has seen about 200,000 acts of violence by the time he turns 18.

Aggression on the TV screen affects boys and girls differently. Boys are significantly more aggressive toward their peers and parents after watching scenes that contain explicit or implied aggression. There were no such consequences observed in girls.

Television acquaints a child with violence and aggression, and in time he becomes accustomed to it. After a while, the child becomes less sensitive to scenes with elements of violence; not only does he think it is acceptable, he learns how to do the same things himself.

American researchers have proven that cartoons with frequent flashing images contribute to the development of behavioral problems and attention deficit in 4-year-old children. 

Children who watch a lot of television think that the violence they see on the screen is a reflection of the way the world really is. So they tend to use aggression and violence to resolve conflicts that arise in their daily lives.

Studies have shown that people who saw a lot of violence on TV as children are more aggressive in their adult years and are likely to break the law.

Along with aggression, frightening scenes on TV can cause nightmares, stuttering, and the development of various childhood fears.

4. Addictive and deviant behavior

Television shows and commercials contribute to risky behavior such as alcohol use, smoking, drug use, theft, vandalism, and promiscuity. Because of the way they are portrayed on some television shows, children perceive all these negative things as cool and funny.

Incidentally, television contributes to the development of addictions not only in children, but in adults as well. 

American psychologists have reached the conclusion that deviant behavior is most often seen in teenagers that spend most of their time watching music channels and war scenes.

5. Manipulation of thought

One more reason why parents should control their children's TV viewing is the lies and falsehoods that constantly come from the screen. Just imagine what your children could start to believe, especially if it comes from one of their favorite stars or musicians.

Russian psychologists assert that watching children's television programs without proper control has a negative effect on reproductive ability.

Young children are not able to reason independently, so their vision of the world becomes subjective and far from the truth. Like a sponge, they absorb racial and gender prejudices from television and internalize stereotypes.

When and how much?

The brain grows and develops more in the first two years than at any other time of life. That is the time when children develop language ability, gross and fine motor skills, and visual, spatial and tactile impressions of the world. American pediatricians recommend that parents either completely forbid or severely limit TV watching in children under the age of two. During these years, digital media may interfere with mental development.

Psychologists say that even incidental TV watching can have a negative effect on children under the age of two. 

Time spent in front of the television should also be restricted for children under the age of eight. Canadian pediatricians recommend that children of this age should watch no more than two hours of television a day.

Between the ages of 10 and 12, the brain is actively developing (this process is called myelination), so during this time it is extremely important to stimulate and activate basic physical, psychosocial and emotional skills.

Television also interferes with the relationship between parents and children, even if it is just on in the background. Researchers have discovered that both the quantity and quality of interaction between family members is less when the television is on.

Advice for parents

Modern psychologists say that children over 16 can watch as much television as they want. However, studies are currently looking into the connection between problem behavior in older children and excessive time spent in front of the television.

It is practically impossible for people in the modern world to completely avoid the effects of television, but it is within the power of parents to prevent addiction to TV and reduce the risks associated with its influence. Here is what you can do: 

  1. Children over two years of age can watch special children's programs that focus on skills development (media literacy) and teaching (nature, the world around us, history, etc.).
  2. Avoid programs with acts and elements of cruelty and violence.
  3. Focus the children's attention on documentaries about nature, scientific discoveries, and programs about history and art.
  4. Cartoons are good, but only as a way to entertain children on a long road trip.
  5. Parents must carefully check all children's programs for positive role models, strong male and female characters, and variation in content and characters.

If used properly, television can become a real "window to the world," but it should never be a babysitter or become your child's main pastime. Encourage your child to spend time with other children and get involved in beneficial activities like reading and drawing.

You will probably not be able to completely rid your home of television, but these simple things will be enough to reduce its negative impact on your son or daughter.

Source: CureJoy, Roditeli.ua, Vegetarian Journal


This article is for informational purposes only. Do not treat yourself, and in all cases consult a qualified medical specialist before using any information in this article. The editors do not guarantee any results and will not be liable for any harm that may be caused by the use of the information contained in the article. 

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