Limiting Kids' TV-Watching Time
Because it uses both visual and audio stimulation, television is a particularly powerful draw for young audiences. Though TV does have some educational value, there is strong evidence of its drawbacks.
Limiting Kids’ TV-Watching Time
Several years ago, the instructor of a class I attended read an article where the author was poised, weapon in hand, debating with her conscience on whether or not to kill. I followed her inner struggle as she considered all angles of her actions, my breath bated with the build-up of suspense until she finally cut off the power supply, plunged her house into darkness, and wielded her deadly weapon: a pair of kitchen scissors. Her target? The television cable wire.
Today, as a mother of four in a world bombarded by media stimuli, I cannot say how many times I’ve struggled with a similar temptation. Sure it’s fun to hang out in front of a take-out pizza and watch a movie with my family. Granted, television can be wonderfully educational, entertaining, and mesmerizing, but I still struggle with the “tube,” which I view as a latent monster in my home. This is especially true when it’s time to do homework, time for baths and meals, time for conversation, or when I’d like to just enjoy peace and quiet.
Because it uses both visual and audio stimulation, television is particularly powerful for young audiences, engrossing them to the extent that some children become unreachable unless somebody shouts in their ears or physically tears them away to break the spell. This often leads to whimpering, whining, or even screaming from the child.
Though the list of attributes of this globalization tool that has shrunk our world’s borders is long, the evidence of its drawbacks and of the dangers lurking within it has been proven conclusive. Limiting kids’ tv-watching and video game time has its benefits.
Violence and the Desensitization Effect
The juries in this case are the consensus reports reached by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the American Psychiatric Association (APA), the Surgeon General, the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), and over 1,000 reports and studies conducted by leading figures within the medical and public health organizations. All of which, according to a statement released at a July 26, 2000, congressional public health summit, “. . . point overwhelmingly to a causal connection between media violence and aggressive behavior in some children.”
The connection has also been established between viewing acts of violence and the subsequent desensitization that occurs following that exposure, towards violence in real life, coupled with the creation of a climate of fear that children internalize.
It is a well-known statistic that today’s average American child watches approximately 28 hours of television per week. That same child typically sits down to at least an hour a day playing video or computer games. Several more hours each week are spent watching movies and videos and listening to music, tallying far more hours than a child spends in school or with his family. By the age of 18 that same child will have watched more than 200,000 acts of violence on television, including 16,000 murders.
Most parents have paid attention to those powerful statistics and widely publicized warnings. Likewise, they’ve implemented as many as they can of the strategies we’ve heard rehashed about limiting our kids’ viewing time, watching with them, knowing what they’re watching, and encouraging constructive dialogue and criticism. Yet, are we applying those same criteria to the programs we choose to watch for ourselves?
The news today is the most violent show on television, and it is easy to get fixated on local and world events. While we become drawn into the magnetism of the TV, are we aware of whether or not our kids are in the room or within earshot? Are we modeling the behavior we’d like our kids to adopt? I’m inclined to plead guilty.
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