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The Dangerous Bond With TV Printable Version PRINTABLE VERSION
by Amira Sobeih, Egypt Oct 15, 2003
Citizen Journalism , Popular Culture   Opinions
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Most children love watching the TV after school but do you really know what effect it's having on your sons and daughters? Earlier this month parents in Britain were accused of using televisions as electronic babysitters, which the government's chief inspector of schools believes has resulted in a generation of youngsters starting school unable to speak properly. The children grow up passively, receiving information from the small screen and the lack of interaction with other human beings means their communication skills are not developed, said David Bell. The children's isolation can lead to behavioral problems when they start school, which also has a detrimental impact on their education.

"TV and computer games use up time which could otherwise be devoted to family things, play or reading, all of which are important for normal speech and language development as well as the development of social skills," added BBC consultant Dr Trisha Macnair. "Television is turning children to tubbies as they sit around more and get out and about less.”TV also encourages children to follow a junk food diet because it bombards them with images of high fat, high sugar snacks and drinks."

Shortly afterwards it was revealed that a third of children under three had televisions in their bedrooms, where parental supervision is slight. One in three children under the age of six was found to be watching television for between two and six hours a day.

British sleep deprivation expert Prof Jim Horne found that up to two-thirds of British children were not getting enough sleep and that by the time a child reaches seven he will have missed out on as much as 4,500 hours sleep. The culprits are televisions and computer games, says Mr. Horne. "Bedrooms are changing from a place of rest and tranquility to places where there are lots of things to keep children awake," he noted. Sleep deprivation can harm neurological development and can contribute to behavioral problems. Two-year-olds should be getting 13 hours a day, three and four-year-olds 12 hours and five and six-year-olds 11 hours. Many get much less.

The actual content of the programming is another topic of hot debate, with concerns about violence topping the agenda. If your child is sitting down in front of cartoons every day you may not think it's a problem, but a US national television violence study found that nearly two-thirds of programs contained violence and that children's programs actually contained the most violence. Psychologist Dr George Gerbner found that children's television shows contain about 20 violent acts an hour.

By the time your child is 18 he or she will have witnessed 200,000 acts of violence on television, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (APA). By the time he reaches 70 he will have spent seven to 10 years of his life in front of the box.

In fact child development specialist Dr Steve Green says youngsters will have spent more time in front of the TV than in the classroom when they graduate from school. The APA argues that children, who see too much violence on television become less sensitive to the pain and suffering of others, become more fearful of the world around them and are more likely to behave aggressively. It also estimates that the average American child views 10,000 murders, rapes and aggravated assaults per year on television and says that American television and movies are the most violent in the world. Many of these programs are screened on satellite channels beamed into Bahrain.

The impact of TV violence can be seen immediately and can even shape a child's future. In a study at Pennsylvania State University, US, 100 pre-school children were observed before and after watching different cartoons. Those who had watched aggressive cartoons were more likely to strike out at playmates, argue, disobey authority and were less patient than those who watched the non-violent shows.

In a longer study Dr Leonard Eron observed youngsters who watched many hours of television violence, from elementary level to the age of 30. Those who were avid viewers were more aggressive as they grew up and more likely to be convicted of criminal acts than those who hadn't been.

In rare cases children can experience deep psychological trauma after watching inappropriate programs for their age group. Two 10-year-olds were separately referred to a psychiatric unit in Britain after watching the horror program Ghostwatch one Halloween. They were diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder and one had to be admitted to the unit for two months to give staff a chance to ease his fears. The youngsters experienced nightmares, flashbacks and panic attacks.

Satellite television is contributing to the ever-increasing amount of TV children are viewing. Ten years ago children in Bahrain were restricted to just a few hours a day of cartoons and children's shows, but now there are 24-hour cartoon channels which can tempt them at any time of the day or night.

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Jeffrey | Nov 5th, 2003
Very true, teens and childrens these days spend far too much time on the computer or watching TV. But there are certain factors that cause this. Here in Canada, most of the time, the weather is cold, too cold to go out and frolic in the park. Children and teens whom are done all their homework etc. have nothing to do but play on the computer or watch TV. Its the only leisurely thing they do. Sometimes, they are forced to watch it in their leaisure time because they have nothing better to do......

My Comment:
Alice | Nov 5th, 2003
Television is the main entertainment for youngsters nowadays. But what was mentioned mostly happened in Britain. The channels are probably different from what people from all over the world have. True, it basically shows the overall content of violence, cartoons, commercials, which are harmful to children and they should enjoy the fresh air, and interact with others. The internet is also like tv, but no one can really complain that internet is worse. Because most teens, they enjoy talking to friends and surfing the web, they're at least interacting with eachother. But when you watch tv, you're mainly sitting down and staring at the same spot for several hours. However, there are equally the amount of cookie grabbers out there telling young people the wrong idea of things. I think the broadcasters should watch what they're putting into the programs so that it is acceptable in all of the age groups. Youngsters should not be watching programs that are inappropriate, but I'm sure teenagers are mature enough and have been told enough times already to know what's okay to watch, and what's not? Mainly, parents should be watching their children carefully then, if they are so concerned about the "damage" tv does to one self. They should be taught also to avoid violence and other types harsh programs, and be limited in the amount of time they get to sit in front of the tv. And not all of the commercials about junk food are harmful. Junk food is okay once in a while, just not apart of an everyday diet. And if you actually buy the food they show in the commercial, the chances are that you won't eat it again for a long time. You can't gain pounds just because you spend 2 hours staring at a tv screen, I hope. And parents should know if their kids are getting enough sleep or not, and should be making sure that they do. But parents are not always to blame. Broadcasters should make certain channels appropriate for adults, children, teens, and sometimes seniors. In many movies and shows, there are usually scenes of violence, hoarse language and sexuality. But do the viewers really need to take in that kind of information? Swearing is something that has influenced a lot of children, mostly teens. Where else does it come from? No wonder the city has to many escaped convicts on the loose. Where do you think they started out? As the world gets deeper in the future, I predict that the amount of harsh programming will increase unless something stops it. Everyone should take precautions to what kind of material they set their eyes on, and they should know, and differ from whats is wrong and what is right.

I agree and disagree
Kevin Ruan | Nov 5th, 2003
Yes, I agree with you with some things. Computers and TV is very addictive to children. Yes I know because I

My Views on Television
Cynthia Hung | Nov 5th, 2003
T.V can have a great impact on many children or youth. I agree with the author that it is a dangerous electronic, when it is not used properly. In the article, the writer quoted many studies and researches which indicated many harmful effects of TV on children and youth. Everyday inappropriate things are shown on T.V, and youth or children who absorbs these things imitate them. When they see things on T.V, it all just seems so right and real. Many teens and children don’t realize that most shows are there to entertain, not teach. Advertisements also will only cause youth to go after the latest trends and children to want more toys. This only leads to peer pressure and ungratefulness. When people want peace, they usually think about stopping discrimination, wars, racism...but what about stop watching violence on TV? I find the author correct in believing that violence on T.V really affects youth and children. Seeing people fighting and wrestling on TV causes them to feel that they’re powerful and strong just because they could hurt someone. This is probably why there are increasing violence and murders in this world. If you see fighting practically everyday, than you’d begin to believe that it isn’t wrong anymore. Therefore a way to bring peace in this world could also be preventing teens and children from watching too much violence on TV. Although there are parental control system invented for limiting the choice of TV, parents are too busy to monitor their children. As long as their children stay quiet and are not bothering them, parents are pleased to leave them alone. Thus I think it is more of the parents’ fault rather than the TV for the rising violence nowadays. Other than violence and explicit sex on TV, I find that it is fine overall. As the author mentioned, there are educating programs on TV, biographies, historical facts, the news, etc. One could learn a lot from the TV, and be inspired and encouraged by it. Basically, we should not blame TV for all the problems arose in children and youth, but the way TV was being utilized by all the TV producers. Generally, I agree with the author’s opinion on the negative effects of TV these days. However blaming the TV is not the right attitude, it does not lead to a solution. People should take their responsibilities of using the TV appropriately to build up the next generation for a better world.

this article is right
Rebecca Li | Nov 6th, 2003
What this article is saying is correct. Television and computers have become the main entertainment for children and teenagers in these days. Sometimes it is not all the children’s fault, parents are also responsible of how much time they spend on watching television and the amount of time they spend on the computer. Some children have to start wearing glasses since they were 5 years old, it’s because everyday they just sit in front of the television for hours. Some people have television all over their house, such as bedrooms, dining rooms, kitchen, and basement. It is no wonder that they have to wear glasses when they are so young because televisions are all around them. They have no time to rest, except for when they go to sleep. When children grow up, they might have problems with their back, because they spend too much time on the computer. On some channels of television, it is bringing out terrible messages to children. They are teaching them how to fight and use foul language. In these days even little children know how to talk back or swear at people. I think parents who know that their children are still young, and may not understand that violence is bad, should accompany them while they are watching television, so they can avoid their children of watching anything inappropriate. I understand that some parents have to go to work, and may not be able to look after their children all the time, that’s why they can call their cable company and lock all the channels that they consider inappropriate for their children. I also noticed that more people have become lazier, children are supposed to go out to play all the time, but instead they rather stay home. We should appreciate the time when we get to go out to play and get fresh air. As children grow up, they go out less because they are always occupied with something to do. If you want it to have a better world, stop your children from watching violent shows because a lot of arguments starts from one person insulting the other person with foul language then they start to fight physically. Children also have responsibility of what they watch, if they know they are not mature enough to watch it, then they should turn off the television immediately. However, if the children are watching educational program, or if they are using the computer for projects, then I think that is fine. They still shouldn’t spend a large amount of time on the computer or television, they should take a rest between the time they watch television or go on the computer. By making a better world, everyone must do their role, and stop their children from watching inappropriate media that is shown on television.

anson guo | Nov 6th, 2003
What this article said is very true. Many children watch over 3 hours each day, this affect their eyes and they will also see more violent scenes when they are watching TV. Parents should not let their child/children have a TV in their bedroom because that is only making their child/children to stay up later than they should to watch their favorite show. If they don?t get enough sleep, how are they supposed to concentrate to school works? I think the parents should like making a time table for their child/children how much time a day that they could watch TV and when should they go to bed. I think that might help the children to be more concentrate on school. If some parents can't look after their children because they need to go to work, they could employ a babysitter to look after their children. It is not always the parents' fault, the children should be going to sleep on time and rest between they watch TV.

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