The Effects Of Television On Children
A young boy sets his bed on fire, imitating Beavis & Butthead, a popular, animated, nationwide TV show. A six-year-old girl is bombarded with news of murders, riots, wars, and natural disasters, frightening her to the point of hopelessness about the world around her. A brand new baseball glove and bat sit untouched for months because two brothers have grown accustomed to spending every free moment in front of their television set. In America, the average child spends "more than 4,000 hours in front of the TV," before he/she reaches kindergarten (Television's Impact on Children 114-M)
Television today is plagued by strong violence, graphic sexual content, and confusing and frightening views of the world that are often too complex for young children to interpret. This ultimately causes a desensitization and aggravated behavior towards sex and violence, and "a pervasive bleak view of society and human nature among children" (Cullingford 53). While the television industry is winning the battle of keeping its child audience tuned in for hour upon hour, it's leaving in its wake a new generation of passive, unimaginative children who have not learned to take initiative and actually engage in constructive activities. The solution to this problem, many people would agree, is that parents need to take an active role in monitoring and regulating the amount and con-tent of what their children watch on television. However, the solution to this growing dilemma is far more complex than that. As a parent, it is impossible to monitor what our children do every moment of the day. While you might insist that your child not watch certain programs on TV at home, in a friends home your regulations could be ignored. We need to educate our children about the essence of television and help them develop an understanding of fantasy and reality. And when the TV news presents rioting, murders, and people being abused by their own law enforcement as the norm, we need to teach our children that the news media focuses on negative issues while it withholds most of the uplifting events. In short, we need to teach children to grow into critical television viewers who can protect themselves when a parent is not present to provide that protection. James Comer, M.D. informs us that consistent viewing of "sexually explicit and violent films" have an alarming effect on children's behavior (116). Comer also adds that thorough research provides statistics indicating that there is a relationship between children screening violent programming and their violent behavior (116). Comer adds his suggestion of how to remedy this problem, indicating that parents need to add appropriate supervision and "make rules that your child agrees to abide by" (116), and suggests that a child's desire to watch "adult' material may be a form of rebellion. He feels that a good tool for parents to gain more control of what kids are watching is to talk to them and tell them why you're opposed to certain types of viewing material. Also, he feels that if there is a certain type of show that children insist on watching, agree to watch it with them, making it "no longer appealing once it no longer is off limits" (116). He adds that we should talk to our children about sex and violent content, as this communication, will help children to become more critical about their viewing. Dr. Comer is a great source of information on children and television. As a child psychiatrist at Yale University's Child Study Center, he is indeed an expert in this subject, and his suggested approach to dealing with kids and explicit programming makes good common sense. He provides well thought out solutions to the problems of children viewing inappropriate TV, backing his views with research, personal experiences, and his professional field of expertise. Television negatively effects a child's ability to learn effectively and actively, according to a TV...
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