In the present day and age television has begun support a significant role in contributing to the overall well-being of children. Since the advent of television, its technology and capability to entice the mind of a child has grown exponentially through numerous shows directly targeted for children. With the average time of television consumption growing, the television effect on a child is greater than ever. Intermittently incorporated with television programs, advertisements play a vital role in increasing the overall effect television plays on a child.
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Studies have shown that the negative effects of television have outnumbered the positive effects that may be present. The common positive perception of television being that it acts as a learning mechanism and as an educational necessity for some. When in reality, television not only negatively affects the cognitive development of the child’s mental faculties, but also severely degrades the health and physicality of a growing child, through ill practices of nutrition, proper exercise and physical activity. Along with a violent tendencies and premature activities children are being exposed to sensitive content. With the amount of time spent on consuming television outweighing all other activities besides sleep, today’s children are inevitably leading themselves to a path of self-degradation.
Although some effects of television might be beneficial to children by providing several varieties of an educational and learning aspect, all forms of television and advertisements negatively affect the cognitive development of their mental faculties and the disintegration of their overall health and physicality through the incessant barrage of mindless programming and brainwashing advertisements. With intervention by a parents or a figure of authority the damage to a child growth can be greatly restricted.
Through the decades of broadcasted television, children have grown fond of their television sets and cherish it more than their common childhood activities. This outcome has been viewed by society as a negative effect on their children through the onslaught as foolish entertainment disguised as children’s programming. Studies have been conducted to prove otherwise. It has been linked that the repetitions of shows allow children to learn and retain information more effortlessly. Santomero, with the University of Massachusetts Department of Physiology stated that, “Almost any theory of comprehension would predict that children’s comprehension of a television program improves with repetition” (Santomero 630). An educational episode of Blue’s Clues was shown to 3-5 year olds for five consecutive days, recording their educational and entertainment values. Results that followed showed that with each consecutive repetition of the episode overall comprehension of the educational content improved. As a result repetition is a useful strategy for enhancing learning and program involvement in young children. Proving to be one of the useful tools, alongside many others that a child may obtain through television viewing.
With the advances in television, children are now capable of learning new material through the usage of alternative resources. Television is a key mechanism in conveying new information to children rather than less effective conventional methods. Studies have shown that children more readily retain information through television, rather than information conveyed through conventional methods such as printed information. Physiologist Walma van der Molen, with the US: American Psychological association claims:
A media comparison study of the transmission of television and print news information to children was undertaken by comparing children’s recall of news stories presented either audio visually or in print. Children learn most about the news in out-of-school situations, especially via television and to a lesser extent via newspapersâ€¦. The present study; however, may have implications for the contribution of television and print to children’s learning both in and outside of schoolâ€¦. Given that televised and printed news information is used in instruction, it is of interest to investigate from which medium children learn most. (Walma van der Molen 82)
This study examines that children absorb more information through television, due to its interactive characteristics compared to information conveyed through print media. The resources of television provide children with a lower proficiency in reading with the opportunity to expand their knowledge through different and more innovative resources. Allowing children to not be restrained by their reading capabilities, and giving them the chance to use new and existing methods for learning. Not all aspects of television have a negative effect on young children. Children learn and interact from using television as an instrument for learning rather than an instrument of mindless programming. By doing so, not only can children use television as a learning mechanism, but they can also have fun by engaging with television.
Although it is pretty clear some benefits surrounding the viewing of television by children exist, the negative effects outweigh the positive. The problematic issues regarding television have been growing at a substantial rate ever since its advent. Authors, Shea, Harvey-Berino, and Johnson with the Department of Nutrition and Food, at the University of Vermont state that, “On average, Americans watch television for 4 hours and 45 minutes daily. Americans spend more time watching television that participating in any other activity besides work and sleep” (Shea, Harvey-Berino, Johnson). With the average time of television consumed at an already all-time high and growing, the reproductions are immense.
Research has been linked to the influences television viewing has on the dietary quality of children:
Epidemiological studies have shown repeatedly that rates of obesity are associated with both increased media use and poor diet quality in children and adults. Such studies have also shown that hours of television watched are associated with an increased intake of nutrient-poor, energy dense foods and greater overall energy intakeâ€¦. In particular, it seems that diet quality is affected by the amount of television a child watches. (Shea, Harvey-Berino, Johnson 165)
With the obesity rate substantially increasing in the United States, researchers were faced with the task of looking at secondary behaviors such as; television viewing, diet and obesity in children. The countless hours of television that children are encompassed by have been linked to their degrading health levels, ultimately resulting in obesity. The amount of television that is being watched children are making poor decisions regarding the foods they consume. By taking in nutrient poor and energy dense foods, children have molded themselves into unhealthy eaters, even in today’s society of larger disproportionate kids.
With the intervention to reduce the viewing of television within children, it has been proven to lead to a decrease in meals eaten in front of the television: “The results showed that children in the intervention group, who participated in the lessons taught over the course of 2 years, significantly reduced their television viewing by 3.1 hours per week” (Shea, Harvey-Berino, Johnson 168). By reducing the intake of television a child can restrain him or herself from eating poor and unhealthy foods, thus preventing morbid obesity; although, there are more aspects to television that may affect the health of a young child.
Advertisements play a key role in contributing to the overall destruction of a child’s health. With countless amounts of brainwashing advertisements being aired on prime time television, children are inevitably consumed by their convincing messaging. Today’s television advertisements present children with an incessant barrage of unhealthy food promotions that can only lead to one road, unhealthy eating behaviors and morbid obesity. Physiologist Terence Dovey claims that:
The ability to recognize the food adverts significantly correlated with the amount of food eaten after exposure to themâ€¦. The consumption of all the food offered increased post food advert with the exception of the low-fat savory snack. These data demonstrate obese children’s heightened alertness to food related cues. Moreover, exposure to such cues induce increased food intake in all children. As suggested the relationship between TV viewing and childhood obesity appears not merely a matter of excessive [inactive] activity. Exposure to food adverts promotes consumption. (Dovey 221)
Through extensive experiments conducted on the effects of food advertisements on children, it can clearly be depicted that advertisements of unhealthy foods lead to the increase in a child’s unhealthy food intake. With television advertisements being greatly influenced by unhealthy and nutrient poor foods, children have no other alternative but to stuff their faces with sweet and fatty foods that are known to be harmful for them. Due to the negative effect of television advertisements on food, the lasting effect on a child’s health is indescribable, and inevitably leads to obesity and greater illnesses.
The effects of television and television advertisements on children today have been directly linked to the overall health degradation; however, the negative effects continue to cultivate. The effects of television on a child don’t stop at their health, but continues to escalate on their mental cognitive faculties. Studies have been conducted to provide research explaining the effects of prolonged exposure to entertainment television. In a recent study professors Ennemoser, and Schneider of the Department of Psychology at the University of Wurzburg, conducted a 4 year study regarding the relations between television viewing and reading abilities:
â€¦relations between entertainment program viewing and reading performance were generally negative. Children who were classified as heavy viewers (average viewing time per day = 117 min) showed lower progress in reading over time as compared to medium and light viewers (average viewing times per day 69 and 35 min, respectively). (Ennemoser, Schneider 349)
Not only is television playing a vital role in contributing to children’s health problems, but now it is also affecting their mental and cognitive development. The prolonged exposer to television has been growing exponentially as more shows are created and targeted for children.
By way of children consuming more television as time goes on, it is inevitable that their brains and mental abilities will slowly deteriorate, “Neuroscientists have shown that environmental experiences significantly shape the developing brain because of the plasticity of its neuronal connectivity. Thus, repeated exposure to any stimulus in a child’s environment may forcibly impact mental and emotional growth, either by setting up particular circuitry (“habits of mind”) or by depriving the brain of other experiences” (Healy). Preemptive action must be taken to allow today’s children to mature and still be able to pass a reading literacy test for their specific age group; otherwise there is no hope for the future generations.
It is known that many of today’s children begin to watch television soon after birth, and a significant time each day is apportioned for that activity. Television is plays such a vital role in children’s lives today, that it is almost impossible to break free even though the effects are detrimental for a child’s mental development. Playing a key part in language development, television keeps children away from important aspects of day to day life that help develop their vocabulary. In an article in the Australasian Journal of Early Childhood, authors Garvis, and Pendergast state:
Links between delayed language development and television viewing have also been found. A United States study found that young children aged two-48 months had language development delayed when the television was on. During television viewing, adult interactions with the child also decreased. Adults spoke less to children, with fewer examples of turn-taking responses and vocalisations. (Garvis and Pendergast 24)
By enticing a child with television, their only source of knowledge comes from that almost magical box. They lose their connection to the real world and everyone else that is in it. Because many children are focused on their television shows, they forget to interact with the people around them, varying from parents to siblings and friends. As an outcome they forget how to socialize and build their language and vocabulary skills that are relatively imperative to a child’s mental development. Activism with the people around you is the only way a child can grow his or her vocabulary:
Research also reveals that children under two years learn vocabulary better from real-life experience than from equivalent video presentation A similar study suggests that television models are less effective than live ones preserving discrimination of found speech sounds (phonemes) in young children vocalisations (Garvis, Pendergast 24).
Television that is consuming the lives of children has created this unbalance in a child’s active role with the people that surround them. Being active in real life experiences enable kids to effectively practice and learn language, speech, and vocabulary by simply being active. The key here is to break free of the television’s hand and become independent to allow a child’s mind to fully develop as their ages grow. Otherwise the prolong exposure would inevitably lead to severe learning disabilities for a child’s education.
Playing a large role in determining that television has consequentially negative effect on a child’s mental cognitive development, it also plays a part in contributing to mental behavior and growth. With the variety of television shows that are being aired in prime television today, it is practically impossible to monitor every moment of a child’s television viewing. Violence is present in many of today’s television shows that children may have prolonged viewing too. Violent television has proven to set an underlying tone is a child’s mental behavior development, as authors Garvis, and Pendergast state:
It is argued that young children seeing violence on television leads to responses such as the desensitization to the emotional effects of violence, a lack of empathy with victims of violence, an increased tendency to aggression, and the perception of the world as scary (RACP 2004). According to Young Media Australia (2007), exposure to violent content increases the risk that children may develop a violent mental script that is likely to be gendered (male as the hero/perpetrator and female as the victim). (Garvis, Pendergast 24)
The present violence prone television that is sweeping the television market has been growing, and children have been greatly affected by this. The outcome is nothing short of appalling. Young children are being exposed to sensitive materials before they reach their respected ages for the content at hand, which ultimately leads to an unstable reaction to violence, and aggression. The exposure to violent and aggressive television, children learn and pick up certain violent aspects that they react to, in order to become violent themselves. This is why the monitoring of what young children watch is of great importance, for the prevention of a violent nature that would commonly emerge in children today.
With the arise of sexual content that’s commonly present in television today, children are exposed to a higher context of sexual material. The growth of sexual content that’s present in today’s television shows is off the charts in most cases. Even in shows targeted for kids on television networks such as, Disney Channel, and Nickelodeon. The exposure to the high content of sexual activity leaves a prolong effect on children as they get older enough to become sexually active. Authors Hust, Wong and Chen in their article from the Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media state:
Concern about violent and sexual content that children view is based on the
belief that media content has a strong impact on children’s attitudes and behaviors. Violence on television received the most attention in media effects research. Evidence shows that violent content might contribute mostly to behavioral effects, but also to cognitive and emotional effects. The great number of sexual messages on television also sparked concerns about television’s potential influence on youths’ sexual health. Exposure to sexual television content was linked to teens’ initiation of sexual behavior an teens’ involvement with casual sexual relationships. (Hust, Wong, Chen 382)
Although many studies have linked television to child violence, which is contributing to mainly behavioral effects, the presence of sexual content is also quite great. By embedding sexual content in a child’s mind by repeated exposure at a young age, TV enables a child to grown up into his or her adolescent years and become more sexually active as a direct result to an elongated period of sexual content exposure on television. TV Persuading an innocent child that it is acceptable to be sexually active at a young age, inevitably leading to possible STD’s, and unexpected pregnancy.
Although it has been seen that several effects of television are beneficial to a child by engaging them in a new aspect of education and learning, all contexts of television and advertisements negativity degrade the cognitive development of a child’s mental faculties, along with their overall health, with the persistent bombardment of “mindless” programing and brainwashing advertisements. Television could be and, is a useful too for educational development among young children. With its ability to convey information and language through a friendly concept enables kids to participate and become active in the learning process. But the negative effects outweigh the positive, with television being more and more affective in children’s lives its reach has grown exponentially. Its negative effects on a child’s health and overall physical abilities have been linked television. Not only does television have a prolong effect on a child’s health but it also hinders a child’s ability to learn by limiting their exposure to other sources of material. And the violence present in children inevitably affects the behavioral attitudes of children today.
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Ennemoser, Marco, and Wolfgang Schneider. “Relations Of Television Viewing And Reading: Findings From A 4-Year Longitudinal Study.” Journal Of Educational Psychology 99.2 (2007): 349-368. Web. 21 Nov. 2012.
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