How Much TV is too Much for Young Children?
To Watch or not to Watch
TV watching with children involves many tough decisions for parents to make. How much, when and what content. There are many aspects to consider when considering what place in your child’s life television should take. There are both many benefits and also many downfalls that must be taken into consideration. This topic has been a debate for many years and opinions very widely amongst parents. There are those parents who will not let their children watch any TV to those who rely solely on the TV for their child's entertainment. More and more often TV's are used as babysitters. While on the flip side of that, there are those parents that don't feel children should watch any TV. I think the key is to find and stay within a boundary.
Benefits of Cartoons
As a mother of a 4 year old, I have had the viewing pleasure of watching many of the young children's programs. My son adores Mickey Mouse. This program is very informational as they teach the value of exercise along with education. With the help of Mickey Mouse, my child learned to count at a very early age and was excited about learning. The key is to follow up with the learning on the program, with additional learning while the TV is off. There are several other educational programs, such as Sesame Street, Dora the Explorer and Little Einsteins, to name a few. While entertaining, these programs also engage the children in learning. As a stay at home mom, I am definitely an advocate of these programs and on occasion watch with my son and ask questions as we watch. Good educational programs can definitely provide lasting benefits to children.
Downfalls of Cartoons
On the flip side, the content is very important. There are many cartoons that lack any educational value. While entertaining, I do think these should be very limited, as they do not make the best use of a child's time or energy. Just like other body parts, the brain develops with proper exercise. Programs and other activities that make a child think are key to their brain development. However simply watching educational programs is not sufficient. If all children do is watch TV, they will likely lose interest in all other activities of life. This can be very detrimental to children’s development. If they begin to lose interest in other activities, they will be lacking in physical exercise. Children who sit before the television for long hours tend to be less immune and prone to diseases. In addition concentrating on the TV screen for hours each day may damage their eyesight and they may begin to complain of headaches. Not too mention, sitting for too long in one position reduces the bodies' ability to burn calories and prevent unwanted fat deposits. Thus leading to obese children.
Strike a Balance
The key to TV watching and young children, is maintaining a balance. It is ultimately up to the parents to decide what their children watch and how much they watch. It's important to never consider the television as a devise to keep children out of the way while the parents are busy. In other words, the television should never be used a babysitter. Television is just one source of entertainment, therefore finding other creative activities to keep children busy is very important. Drawing and coloring pictures is a great source of entertainment for young children. My son is a fan of putting puzzles together. These are activities they can do by themselves and also something you can do together.
Find other Activities
Hours of TV Watching
How many hours of TV do your children watch per week?
TV is Here to Stay
In my opinion TV is here to stay and will continue to be a major source of entertainment for families. The bottom line is to develop healthy watching habits for your children from an early age. Ensure that when your children do watch TV, that they are watching appropriate programs for children. Ask them questions about what they are watching. Teach them to think critically and creatively about what they are watching and ensure they do not retain the unrealistic aspects of many of the programs. This is a great time to expand their imagination while teaching them reality. Our children are not cartoon characters and we must ensure they understand that! In addition to educational cartoons, inspirational programs are also great for children. These can aid in influencing children with great social values and moral principles. But again, the key is balance and TV should ultimately be limited to only a few hours for better physical development and mental growth of children.