Debilitating Effects of TV on Children - What Parents Can Do To Help
Every time I sit in front of the TV I feel mildly hypnotized. Even when I’m just watching commercials, I find it hard to stop looking. This worries me, not only for the influence which TV may have on me, but mostly for the influence TV is having in our future: the children.
A study done by the Centre for Applied Research in Education, University of East Anglia, UK, found that my fears were well founded. Children exposed constantly to television don’t feel the need to pursue their own thoughts and ideas because they find exciting ideas so readily available in TV. This can have a significant impact on the development on their imaginative capacities.
In their words: “The article concludes by positing the notion that the ubiquity and ease of access to television and videos perhaps robs today's children of the need to pursue their own thoughts and devise their own occupations, distracting them from inner processes and constantly demanding responses to external agendas, and suggests that this may have implications for the development of imaginative capacity.”
CASES OF ROBBED IMAGINATION
I know children who spend their whole after-school day in front of the television. Some of these children can’t even hold a conversation. Some of them only speak in sentences they have memorized from TV, and when the television is finally off, and they are given toys to play with, they just re-enact episodes from previously seen cartoons.
I have witnessed some of these sad cases. The saddest part of these stories is the lack of interest on the parents’ side to turn off the TV even though they are seeing the dire consequences on their children.
HOW TO PROTECT YOUR CHILDREN FROM EFFECTS OF TELEVISION
As a parent, you are responsible for your children’s well-being, and that means more than just providing clothes, food and a roof. It means being with them and guiding them in the right direction. It means protecting them from any potentially harmful activities, such as TV.
What to do?
*Have clear-cut rules in your house about TV watching.
*Allow your children to watch TV only a certain number of hours or shows. (Preferably not more than 1 or 2 hours per day.)
*Let the children understand that TV watching is a privilege that can be lost if they engage in bad behavior.
*Slowly fade TV watching as a reward. Offer rewards that require spending more time away from television and more time with you.
*Play with them. It can be sports, dolls or board games. Give them activities that will enhance their imagination and that will strengthen your relationship with your children.
*If you are out of ideas, look for arts & crafts activities on the internet. There are plenty of activities you can try with your children, such as making play-doh or even making your family tree.
Pulling kids away from TV can be difficult and time consuming, but it will be time well spent. If it becomes too difficult, remind yourself the reason you are doing this: for the well-being of the precious, little creatures you brought to the world.
Once your children learn that TV is not the answer to their boredom their imagination will soar.