Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Battling Childhood TV Addiction

It is very challenging raising a child in this industry-generated culture. We are surrounded by media at every step, with every program, corporation, and organization vying for our attention and resources. Children have increasingly become victims of this media culture where their real human needs are not met. Sixty years ago, how often would one hear about a depressed child committing suicide or shooting his/her classmates? Parents have every reason to be concerned about what and how much their children watch on television, what games they play, what books they read. I am personally an advocate for no television for children until they are at least five years old - but I have yet to raise a child and I feel that there will be a lot of pressure. Really, I've heard of no studies about the benefits of children watching television, only the opposite.

Watching television is a passive, anti-social activity that replaces an active and social childhood. Desperate, inexperienced parents shove their child in front of the TV as early as infancy without a thought about the consequences. Then they wonder why their children start talking so late, have trouble learning to read, and acquire vision problems before they even start school. At one point the parents will start reaping the rewards: aggressive behavior, constant nagging to acquire advertised food/products, ADHD, and obesity.

Did you ever take note of the subject of children's and teenager's conversations recently? If you listen in there is probably a 95% chance that they will be discussing a cartoon or television program, the newest toy or gadget they want, their favorite musician/celebrity, or their body image. You will rarely hear anything personal, creative, cultural, or inventive. If this is somewhat like your children, don't pass by the red flag.

If you look at page 10 of this PDF at the chart illustrating scientific studies vs. news reports of the Effect of Media Violence on Aggression, it is clear the media wants us to think in its favor. The role of media in childhood obesity is also very clear and does not leave any room for doubt. I highly recommend reading the latest systematic review published in November 2008 on Media and Child/Adolescent Health.

If you are looking for a good parenting book to read that addresses this issue, I recommend Parenting Well in a Media Age by Gloria DeGaetano, it was a very easy, educational, and enjoyable book to devour.

1 comment:

  1. i am a believer that tv nowadays really plays an important role in a child's education. if a parent leaves a child unsupervised watching tv, chances are he or she will pick up a bad thing or two. only a few networks are responsible enough to air reminders for adult content.

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