Television is a topic of great debate. On one hand, there is the entertainment and potential educational aspect, on the other hand, parents are concerned that television can hinder their children’s development, socially, cognitively and these days, even physically.
From an attachment parenting perspective, television could be viewed as a parenting replacement. While it might be OK to glean 15-30 minutes of quiet time while the kids watch a program, using the television as a babysitter certainly is not in their best interests. Your kids appreciate your presence, not the most popular celebrities.
Television can also discourage the use of imagination, by making suggestions on how and what to think. It’s also passive learning, not requiring your child to physically practise anything. They need to practise to think and do the activities in the world around them, not to passively learn them through TV.
Studies have demonstrated that children under age 6 have trouble distinguishing what is real and not real in the world of TV. Which is fantastic news for advertisers, making your beautiful child, a sponge for their material. Children believe that cartoons are real, and have trouble following plots, focusing mostly on the noisy or exciting bits (Just watch an ad during children’s prime time!)
Then there’s the issue of violence on film, you already have a child who may have difficulty distinguishing reality, is left alone, and perhaps is now taking in the noisy and exciting parts of a program passively – violence in television is a recipe for disaster!
Studies have shown that children under 8 years of age who have watched violent TV, are more likely to solve problems in real life with aggression, and a lack of self confidence.
Then there are the social issues to examine, what is television teaching your child about gender roles, sex, drugs, violence, relationships, racial issues, self esteem. Are the qualities portrayed in children’s television something you admire, or would rather shield your child from.
Personally, we chose to get rid of our television when a certain reality TV series aired it’s third season – we decided our romantic and personal lives were far more important. Then our children came along, and to be honest, I don’t think they’ve missed out by not having a television.
Most studies firmly recommend no television at all for children under age two – but as parents, we’ve got to be responsible for our children’s viewing habits. If you are going to let your child view television, simply be aware and sure of what you’re allowing them to learn, remembering their little brains are building the most neuro-connections they’ll ever build until they’re teenagers.