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Children, Learning, Imagination and TV

Updated on August 29, 2012

Welcome to my Hub that answers the question, "How long should school age children be allowed to watch TV daily?" asked by jenbeach21 .

Do Kids Even Need TV At All?

I don't think so. I was raised completely without TV. My father refused to own one, on the grounds that, "The commercials insult your intelligence." (Turns out, he was right!) We were a family of readers, and I grew up as a reader. To that early experience with the printed word, I credit my writing abilities and facility with language.

I was not harmed by being 'deprived' of TV. Of all the childhood things I remember "begging" to have, TV was not one of them. I had a great childhood; I played outdoors with my friends; we invented games of our own; we played indoors when the weather was not nice. I went camping with my parents and learned much about nature. We went places and saw things. I learned photography; I learned about history in a painless way; I learned so much.So, in my opinion, TV is not something a child needs at all.

When my own kids came along, we did have a TV, but I restricted their viewing to Sesame Street and Mr. Roger's Neighborhood when they were young. I think they should be strongly encouraged to get outside and play, or make use of their imaginations indoors, and the TV should be kept OFF as much as possible.

TV As A Distraction

Many families allow their children to do their homework while parked in front of the TV. The kids may claim they are not distracted, and are paying attention to their work. It's not true. Kids are not that good at being multi-taskers, and even adults can have trouble trying to focus on two things at once.

In trying to do homework while watching TV, guess which is going to suffer? Right. The TV, with its flashing, quick-change images and raucous sounds are going to claim the child's attention far better than the schoolbooks. (Mind you, I'm no big fan of homework, but that's a whole other issue!)

There are those who claim to want "background noise" to be able to concentrate. I don't buy it, (it doesn't work for me--I want it quiet when I need to concentrate), but if that's the case, turn on a radio, low, not loud, to a talk station, not music that they'll end up wanting to sing along with or dance to.

Garbage In, Garbage Out

Garbage In; Garbage Out--used to be a computer programming term, shortened to "GIGO." The same, however, applies to the human brain. Much of what is shown on TV these days is garbage, and a waste of time.

I am particularly annoyed with the recent spate of TV ads urging kids to, "Get up and play; an hour a day!" Seriously? Only an hour? Get up, get off your rear ends, and go outside and play until dinnertime, or all day on the weekends! When I was young, having to stay inside was tantamount to punishment! Yes, I realize that was probably the dark ages.

Kids nowadays are so 'wired' with all the latest technological gadgetry, that I wonder if there is anything inside their brains at all besides replays of assorted video games! If it's not games, it's the internet, and 'tweeting,' texting, FaceBook, etc. All of it accomplished from a cell phone and while loafing in a chair. None of it truly important, and certainly not educational.

Obesity Epidemic

Look around. There are vast numbers of children these days who are morbidly obese. This is not healthy for them, and it is, for the most part, a direct result of sitting on their collective butts eating the most heavily advertised snacks and playing on their assorted electronic devices.

Learning Deficits

No only are today's kids getting fatter at earlier ages from parking on their rears and munching unhealthy snacks, but they are becoming mentally lazy as well. (TV is not 100% to blame, there--but that's a subject for a different article),

Learning deficiencies and trouble in school can be traced directly to too much TV watching. Because they are watching a visual medium, and accustomed to hearing words spoken, they do not read unless made to do so in school. (I assure you, that is not enough reading to make words 'stick.') Because they do not read, they don't see how words are spelled and used. As a result, their spelling skills are atrocious at best; nonexistent at worst.

Hence, the proliferation of what is now two generations (starting with the generation of my own kids, and now into the era of my grand-kids), who do not seem to know (or worse, care) about the differing meanings of sound-alike words such as, "they're," "their," and "there."

The Death of Imagination

Sitting passively watching TV, or playing with some electronic device is a death knell for the imagination. All the action and reaction is done for them, by the actors or characters in the show or game. The kids don't even have to think!

OK, so some may argue that directing a virtual race car down a raceway, or a little guy through a maze of hazards qualify as eye-hand coordination exercises. Perhaps, up to a point, but that point doesn't go far. It's all repetitive motion. Are we raising the next generation of carpal-tunnel syndrome sufferers?

Take away their electronics, and shoo today's kids outdoors to go play, and how many of them can think of anything to do? Younger kids may still be convinced to ride their bikes or skateboards, and get some exercise, but what of older kids, who seem to think those are for "babies?"

No--when they get bored, and have inadequate parental supervision and involvement in their lives, they are more likely to get into trouble on the wrong side of the law--whether it be graffitti or other forms of vandalism, or something more serious, such as stealing cars and going for joy rides.Why? Because they are acting out what they have watched all their favorite characters doing in the movies, and in those video games, that's why! They are emulating their "heroes," without having any real concept of what a hero is supposed to be.

Be a family! Be involved with your kids. The TV is not a surrogate babysitter. It's the brain-eating zombie!

So, How Much TV Is Too Much?

Even if I were raising my kids today, I would still stick with my earlier standards. You can pick one or two shows to watch after school. Any more than that deadens the mind...then you must find other things to do. Learn to cook. Draw pictures--art is great for the imagination. Older kids can learn to help with routine car maintenance. Do family activities such as camping and hiking.

So, turn off the TV, go outside and play for real! You might like it!


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