Children and Television Watching: The Opinions of Parents in the United States
A Qualitative Study
By: M. Carpenter
Introduction and Literature Review
One concern that parents may have towards their children is whether or not television is good for them. According to The Nielson Company, television viewing among kids is at an eight-year high. Whether it is TV shows or DVDs, American children between the ages of two and eleven are watching more television than ever before. Kids between the ages of two and five are spending more than 32 hours a week, on average, in front of the television screen. The older portion, between the ages of six and eleven, are watching less due to the fact that they are attending school for longer hours in the day.
71% of 8 to 18 year olds have a TV in their bedroom. 54% have a DVD or VCR player in their room. 37% have cable and/or satellite television and 20% have premium channels (KAISER). Not only are children viewing shows and movies through the television screen, but they are also viewing them on the Internet and through cell phones and iPods. Television viewing is playing a very prominent role in children’s lives today.
Additionally to the statistics, there seems to be other hypothesized issues regarding children watching too much television. Television viewing is perhaps replacing certain activities that are more productive and educational. For example, it might be replacing activities such as interacting with friends and family members, doing chores, schoolwork, and even playing outside, causing high inactivity.
There have been countless discussions about too much television causing children to become overweight. According to the University of Michigan, researchers found that just being awake and in the room with the television on more than two hours a day was a risk factor for being overweight at ages three and four. They also furthered their investigation to whether diet, physical activity, or television viewing predicted body mass index (BMI) among three to seven year old children. Their research concluded that physical activity and television viewing are most associated with the risk of being overweight. Television viewing was a bigger factor than the child’s diet. While watching television, the metabolic rate seems to go even slower than when a child is just resting, doing nothing (Klesges, Shelton, Klesges, 1993). Kids also tend to snack while consuming images from the television screen. Much of the commercials and advertisements from the television encourage unhealthy eating habits. Advertisements target kids, knowing that they are captivated by all of the high-sugar, high-calorized foods, along with fast food commercials (Viner and Cole, 2005).
Another popular concern is how aggressive and violent behavior from the television screen effects children. This is a popular research study, and different studies have been conducted since the 1950s. Thousands of studies have been conducted, and all but 18 have answered “yes” (American Academy of Pediatrics, 2001). According to the AAP, extensive research evidence indicates that media violence can contribute to aggressive behavior, desensitization to violence, nightmares, and fear of being harmed. Children under the aged of eight cannot tell the difference between reality and fantasy, making them more susceptible to learning that it is reality. Even G-rated and animated shows and movies contain violence, leading children to believe that it is acceptable. Violent acts depicted from the media can also go unpunished and often conveyed with humor, and leaving out the consequences. Kids are frequently observing “the good guy” beating up “the bad guy” giving the impression that violence is normal and the right thing to do. Children feel the need to be like the “good guy” hero. Watching television violence can lead to long-term effects that go further into adulthood.
At an early age, children learn a lot about...
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