The Effects of Television Viewing
Watching television is more accurately described as entertainment than play, but it is in reality a tool for both. Watching programs is one side of the picture; using the equipment for video games is another. Whatever the purpose, American children watch television an average 3 to 5 hours per day (Spencer, 2003).
The effects of television viewing on children has been widely researched. As early as 1985, the National Coalition on Television Violence (1985) identified more than 850 studies and reports of 120,000 people of all ages, in 20 nations, showing the harm of viewing television violence. The most common effects were increases in anger and irritability, loss of temper, increased verbal aggression, increased fear and anxiety, and a desensitization toward violence. The studies also documented increases in fighting, distrust and dishonesty, decreases in sharing and cooperation, increases in depression, willingness to rape, and actual criminal behavior.
By 2003, the U.S. Department of Education Educational Resources Information Center Clearinghouse on Elementary and Early Childhood Education (ERIC, 2003) reported research demonstrating these and additional negative effects of television viewing including violent or overly aggressive behavior, precocious sexuality, obesity, and the use of drugs or alcohol. The ERIC system also reported studies showing that television negatively affects creativity, language skills, children’s learning, and school achievement. The effects of television violence may also result in immunity to the horror of violence, acceptance of violence as a way to solve problems, imitation of television violence, and identifying with characters, victims and/or victimizers (American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 1999).
The growing prevalence of computers at home and school has led to what could be called a “culture of the flickering mind” (Oppenheimer, 2003, p. xx). The “flickering mind” defines a generation poised between having a chance to become confident, creative, constructive problem solvers or becoming victims of commercial motives and novelties. American children appear to be a distracted lot, with diminishing attention span, listening and reasoning abilities, and fading empathy. However, television has two faces. Long-respected researchers Dorothy and Jerome Singer (2005) conclude that some television time can enrich children’s creativity and play and promote readiness. On one hand, with guidance from adults, screen time can expand and intensify creativity, empathy, and imagination. On the other hand, they argue, violent games and television have the toxic effect of stimulating aggression and destructive ideas.
© ______ 2008, Merrill, an imprint of Pearson Education Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. The reproduction, duplication, or distribution of this material by any means including but not limited to email and blogs is strictly prohibited without the explicit permission of the publisher.
Add your own comment
- Kindergarten Sight Words List
- The Five Warning Signs of Asperger's Syndrome
- First Grade Sight Words List
- 10 Fun Activities for Children with Autism
- Graduation Inspiration: Top 10 Graduation Quotes
- What Makes a School Effective?
- Child Development Theories
- Should Your Child Be Held Back a Grade? Know Your Rights
- Why is Play Important? Social and Emotional Development, Physical Development, Creative Development
- Smart Parenting During and After Divorce: Introducing Your Child to Your New Partner