Television And How It Influences Children
Adults do not pay too much attention to the influence television has since adults are older. Unfortunately, children on the other hand get absorbed by what they see on television. Children are influenced several ways by being placed in front of a television for hours on end. When a child is exposed to violence, sexual content and reality shows it can cause major damage that will have a long term affect. Some of the long term affects could be health issues, and having trouble sleeping. Parents today have busy schedules so some times it is easier to sit a child in front of the television as babysitter; it allows parents to complete tasks or just take a break. A parent must pay more attention to what their child is watching nowadays so the child will not be influenced by what she watches on television.
Since violence is at an all time high on television parents need to protect their children from it. The issue of violence on television raises questions about censorship and government imposed restrictions on the media. Some programs promote violence and murder, and since the bad guy never has consequences it teaches children that it is acceptable to commit these acts. Since most of these acts go unpunished children do not see that it is wrong to do these acts. 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.' National Center for Children Exposed to Violence states “Television alone is responsible for 10% of youth violence.” Parents need to talk to their children about what they see on television, and point out that even though the actor/actress have not actually been hurt or killed such acts of violence in real life can cause pain and also result in death. The American Academy of Pediatrics reports “that by age 18, the average American child will have viewed about 200,000 acts of violence on television alone.” An alternative way parents can control the amount of violence seen by their child is by setting limits on how long a child can watch television. Therefore, parents need to always be aware of what programs their children are watching.
As a result of violent television extreme violent acts of children are on the rise. Katherine Ramsland of TruTV states “While the murder rate doubled between 1957 and 1992, the aggravated assault rate – the rate at which people are attempting to maim or kill one another – has multiplied many times more.” Television desensitizes children to where they identify as been the person in the movie. Movies like Natural Born Killers, Scream and other movies that portray gruesome killings. Children associate violence with entertainment. They eat and drink while watching, so that violence becomes a pleasing routine. As for role models, not only does the media make killing larger than life, but children also learn from other children.
Whereas, sexual content on television is becoming more acceptable then it once was. Commercials have a lot of sexual content in them, from men’s body wash to women makeup. It’s not just the media that children are learning about sexual ideas it also through friends. If parents look at the programs their children are watching like MTV’s RJ Berger they would see teens engaged in sexual talk and other forms of sexual content. There are so many programs for teens to watch that have some form of sexual content whether it be kissing, joking about sex, or touching in a sexual matter. Children are getting most of their sexual education through watching television programs, which can lead them to not getting the proper information. Some parents say conversations with their children about sensitive topics like teen pregnancy or AIDS have been sparked by something they saw on television. According to University of Michigan, “The number of sex scenes on TV has nearly doubled since 1998, with 70% of the top 20 most-watched shows by teens including sexual content.” A study done by RAND, “Youths who viewed the greatest amounts of sexual content were two times more likely than those who viewed the smallest amount to initiate sexual intercourse during the following year or to progress to more-advanced levels of other sexual activity.” According to Parenting Ideas, “Sexual behavior among U.S. teens is on the rise. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 46% of all high school students have had sexual intercourse.” Now that teen pregnancy is on the rise, parents should be concerned about what their children are watching on television.
Presently reality television programs are everywhere you look on television nowadays. What children learn from these types of programs can often baffle them due to the display and can think that everyone acts like that. Children sometimes pick up the negative habits like lying, false identifications, cheating, abusive habits and language they see on reality shows. A child’s mind is like a sponge, so when they see people on television acting out they think it is acceptable to act the same way. Reality shows can glorify teen pregnancy, drug use, and multiple sex partners, therefore as children grow up they will follow the same examples they have seen on television. Reality television can have a competitive side to it. People compete against each other for prizes, usually deceiving each other and engaging in outrageous dares or antisocial exploits in the process. However, certain talent shows and other programs that portray individuals trying to perfect could be a positive message. Since the presence of alcohol is so high on these shows children are more likely to talk or even drink at an early age. Even though some reality television shows are scripted, children do not understand because it looks so real. Parents need to explain to their children that just because it is on television they do not need to follow what they see.
Unfortunately, while watching television the food and drink industry bombard children with commercials enticing them to have their parents buy the product. “During Saturday morning cartoons, children see an average of one food ad every five minutes. The vast majority of these ads – up to 95 percent – are for foods with poor nutritional value” researches at Science Daily state. Alvin Poussaint, M.D. states “Childhood obesity increased from 5 percent in 1964 to about 13 percent in 1994. Today, it is about 20 percent – and rising.” Getting a child into sports will help with exercise and can also help promote a healthier life. Parents need to promote healthy eating habits so their children will not be so influenced by the advertisements they see on television.
When a child has a television in their bedrooms it can cause a problem with sleeping. Science Daily reported that “The types of sleep problems reported by parents included trouble falling asleep, nightmare, walking during the night, trouble with morning alertness, and daytime sleepiness.” A child that does not receive the proper amount of sleep will soon experience problems in schools. School will be affected due to the child not being able to stay focused because of restlessness. Children should finish all homework prior to watching television. Some researches are linking ADHD with television in a child’s bedroom. Another problem with having a television in the child’s room is their eyesight can be impacted. Watching television in the dark can strain the child’s eyes, so over a period of time some children may need glasses to correct some of the problems.
Whereas, some parents would argue that television is not the worse thing ever invented, because there are many television programs that are educational to children. For example, Sesame Street, Barney and Blue’s Clue’s are some of the educational shows offered to children under the age of six. The News, current events and historical programs can help make a child more aware of other cultures and people. Parents also need to monitor what their children are watching and not let them sit in front of the television for long periods of time. If children watch age appropriate television programs then they would not be exposed to the negativity that is on television. Some television programs show children that families work together creating a stronger family. No matter what a child is watching parents should always have control of how many hours a child watches television.
Consequently television will always be apart of the American way. Children should only be exposed to certain shows that pertain to their age group in order to protect them from the violence, sexual content and the lies that reality television brings into their lives. Television is only going to get worse in the future because the networks will push the limits anytime they get a chance. Families need to find ways to stay connected. Ways they could is by playing board games and going to the park are good alternatives to just sitting in front of the television. Having dinner together without the television on and talking to children will keep a parent connected. Parents can protect their children by making sure they have values so they do not believe everything they see on television.
- Boyse RN, Kyla. 'Television (TV) and Children: Your Child.' University of Michigan Health System. Brad Bushman, PhD., Aug. 2010. Web. 27 July 2011. .
- 'Does Watching Sex on Television Influence Teens' Sexual Activity? “RAND Corporation Provides Objective Research Services and Public Policy Analysis. 16 Sept. 2010. Web. 31 May 2011 rand.org/pubs/research_briefs/RB9068/index1.
- 'Media Violence.' Http://www.aap.org/advocacy/releases/mediaviolencetestimony.pdf. 13 Sept. 2000. American Academy of Pediatrics. Web. 19 July 2011.
- Poussaint, Alvin. 'Obesity Among Children - FamilyEducation.com.' Family Life, Child Development, Nutrition, Teen Health & School Safety - FamilyEducation.com. Web. 27 July 2011. .
- Ramsland, Katherine. 'The Unthinkable — Children Who Kill and What Motivates Them -- The Crime Library — Does Television Have an Effect? — Crime Library on TruTV.com.' TruTV.com: Not Reality. Actuality. Web. 27 July 2011.
- 'Statistics (Violence in the Media) - National Center for Children Exposed to Violence NCCEV.' The National Center For Children Exposed to Violence - Home Page. 16 Dec. 2005. Web. 19 July 2001 http://www.nccev.org/violence/statistics/statistics-media.html
- 'The Effects of Televised Sexual Content on Adolescents - Parenting Ideas.' Parenting Ideas : Blog on Parenting Ideas Practical Tips. 19 Jan. 2007. Web. 29 July 2011.