Television and Children For years pediatricians, psychologist as well as parents have debated whether television (TV) should be eliminated from the daily lives of younger children. The internet is filled with numerous articles and websites devoted to either supporting the parents that chose to let their children watch television or by providing an increasing amount of information that proves how detrimental allowing children to watch TV can be.
The same can be said in regards to the numerous websites and experts that support the decision that allows children to watch TV which in fact, can e beneficial for their development and academic learning. Educational programming along with set times and guidelines can be an asset to learning in children by encouraging cognitive skills while improving academic abilities. Content Matters It is the responsibility of the parent to monitor what his or her child is watching. What children are watching on TV is directly related to what they are learning.
Age appropriate content is content that is specifically programmed for children under a particular age bracket. For example, a program rated TV -Y is aimed at children ages 2-6. According to the TV Parental Guidelines (“TV Parental Guidelines”, 2009) programming under this guideline is suitable for children ages 2-6 and is not expected to frighten children or be violent in nature. Children should not watch content that is considered violent or sexual in nature. Such content would be labeled TV-M, which is aimed at a mature audience. What is acceptable for an adult is not suitable for a child, especially a young one.
It is imperative that children under the age of seven watch programming that focuses on proboscis behavior (behavior that focuses on sharing, helping, taking turns ND being kind to others). It is through proboscis behavior that a child learns to interact and socialize with others. It helps them build and expand on friendships and relationships, which in turn helps them understand the complexities of different relationships and how to react to a negative situation and or social experience (Gordian 2012). Proboscis programming is easily accessible through networks such as Sesame Street, Nick Jar. Disney, Discovery Kids and PBS sponsored programs. These networks are designed to promote proboscis behavior, as well as educational learning. The content shown is aimed at younger viewers, is age appropriate, stimulating, fun and educational. Educational Programming Educational programming stimulates learning and reinforces creativity. It teaches the use of numbers and alphabet through visual stimulation, music and dance. Educational programming and or content promotes social and cognitive development. Shows such as Sesame Street, Dora the Explorer, Bubble Guppies etc. Target letter and number recognition, geometric shapes and relational concepts (Handwriting, 2006) which helps children with vocabulary, math and science. Numerous studies have proven that preschool aged children who are exposed to Sesame Street and their counterparts fare better in a linguistic standpoint than children who do not watch educational programming (Handwriting, 2006). Educational television capitalizes on the way younger children learn. When using symbols and objects children are transported to a fun fantasy land that allows them to learn.
The vivid colors, songs and tempo capture not Just their attention but their imagination as well. In this scenario, repetition leads to mastering. By using animated objects, stories are told in a logical order that follow a task to completion, thus making the child feel accomplished. Without realizing it, the child will have engaged in critical thinking, which is crucial to his or her development. Because children within the pre-school age group have a low retention, they fail to realize the repetitive sequence within what they are watching.
It is within the song and dance that children learn to recognize patterns, reinforce critical thinking while enhancing their cognitive skills and academic capabilities (Handwriting, 2006). Learning is incorporated within the “fun aspect. Children tend to immerse themselves within the song and dance, not realizing that the sole purpose of the program is to teach them and help them develop academically. Parental Supervision Parents need to be aware of what their children are watching. Content is only a fraction of what parental supervision entails.
A responsible parent will not only monitor content but when, where and how long his or her child watches television. Parents should let family members along with friends know what is acceptable as well as what the rules are as far as watching television when the children are away room home. Each family is different and may have different rules and guidelines or a completely different view on the subject, it is up to each parent to ensure that their children understand that the rules apply even when not at home.
Steps can be taken to ensure a child does not have access to channels and or programming that is not content and age appropriate for a child. Parental controls can be set up on any television/cable service so that the content displayed is age appropriate and not graphic in nature. By restricting certain channels, programs and ivies with a pin code, parents can have a much better control on what their kids are watching. Now that many networks will show programming via the internet it is also prudent to explain to children that the rules set forth for watching TV also apply when watching content online.
Parents should talk to their children about the things they see on TV. Ask questions like, what do you think happens next? Or, why do you think that happened? How does that make you feel? By talking to their children about what they see and how it makes them feel, parents can address negative images and feelings quickly ND limit the negative effects on the child. It is the parents’ sole responsibility to explain and talk through any questions or concerns the child may have. This will allay any fears or concern within the child.
Research studies show that parental monitoring when watching television is Just as important as reducing inappropriate media content (“Office Of Research Guide,” 1994). Guidelines Parents should set rules and guidelines for their children in regards to television. Children need constant stimulation and interaction. A healthy balance must be made in between watching educational content and other forms of learning. Rules can be put into place where a certain amount of time can be allotted for watching television or by keeping the television off during meal times.
Have dinner around the dining room table not the TV. The same can be set about keeping televisions away from children’s rooms. By doing this, the parent will have complete control when and for how long the child is allowed to watch television. TV time should be a privilege not a requirement. Times spent away from watching television should be productive and proactive. Provide an area that is television free, keep ample supplies such as rayon’s, paper, play dough, books and table games for additional entrainment.
Parents must remember that a television is not a bribe for keeping your child at bay. Television should not be a replacement for quality family time. It is not a built in babysitter. Parents must lead by example. A parent who is an avid TV watcher and does not partake in any other activity will be reinforcing that same behavior to their child. Promote an active lifestyle. Partake in family games and activities. Incorporate reading to your child. By reading a book by his or her favorite heartache, parents not only limit the amount of TV watched but can also help with the transition into bedtime.
Watching television should be limited to a small portion of a child’s day, not the main event. Engage the whole family in different activities that do not revolve around watching television. Participate in sports, go for walks, anything that gets you moving and away from the TV. Parents should encourage active recreation, such as arts and crafts as well as “free play. ” Free play provides the child with a blank canvass where their imagination and creativity can run free and is often accompanied by the beloved characters they watch on TV.
Conclusion In short watching, educational programming that is age appropriate and in moderation can be beneficial to a child’s development. Age-appropriate programming that is designed to reinforce learning by incorporating proboscis behavior along with linear thinking can stimulate a child’s learning capabilities, cognitive development and critical thinking. By transporting the child to a land of fantasy where his or hers favorite characters come to life the child is immersed in a world that although repetitive is easy to grasp.