Like it or not, television is part of our lives. There are positive and negative aspects of television, and offers some guidelines for parents. There are some programs we have which are not child friendly including cartoons, yes cartoons! Hopes Dreams Montessori Kindergarten American Academy of pediatrics (AAP) does not recommend parents to allow children under two (2) to watch television. Since the babies and toddlers have a critical need for direct interactions with parents and other significant care givers for healthy brain growth and development of appropriate social, emotional and cognitive skills.
Various studies have shown that heavy viewers of television are:
- Less co-operative at school
- Spend less time in conversation with family members
- Are more aggressive & less imaginative
- Less physically developed and prone to obesity
- Day dreamers, less concentration in their work
- Eye strain
Accepting the fact that our children will be exposed to television, how much is healthy? Half an hour in front of an educational programme where you know the child/children are watching something which gives them good information is fine.
However do take the children for walks, visits to the zoo, visit the library, playing or just chatting.
Children understand the world and their experiences in a special way. They often have difficulty separating reality from fantasy and interpret what they see in the television literally, so a ghost or a monster seen on television can give them nightmares. Also with the loud sounds, they become over stimulated, which makes them restless, discontent and difficult to settle.
The young children need to learn to walk, speak, talk & think, all of which require interaction and response for their development. They need to learn to use their voices and actions to elicit responses from others, but television is not interactive and does not respond to an infant’s actions coos and calls.
Toddlers ‘work’ is to play, which develops the brain and the body. their play should draw them to other people, objects and activities and encourage them to explore and engage physically & imaginatively. Through play they learn to concentrate, persistence & problem solving. Rhymes and stories and well chosen games & educational toys can help exercise skills, unlike television viewing which requires little concentration, focused attention or integration.
Educators believe that television/Computer games/play station contribute to children failing to reach their physical milestones at the appropriate time.
Many believe that violence watched on the television make the children to be violent in schools & society.
Programmes like Barney and others meant for children tackle subjects like colours and numbers in a fun way as long as parents draw attention to these elements and discuss them with the children. Parents should make television or cd watching a special item. It is important to choose the right material, with educational value or a positive moral message e.g. friendship, trust and family values.
Be a better TV watcher:
- Decide on family viewing policy and how much television is acceptable for your children.
- Make sure the child minder knows and follows your policy when you are not there.
- Plan viewing of specific programmes instead of random viewing.
- Choose age appropriate programmes, featuring children in your child’s peer group.
- ‘Mediate’ viewing and make television a learning experience by sitting with the child, discussing, asking questions and helping with interpretation of content.
- Explain the difference between advertisements and programmes if your child is old enough to understand.
- Help and encourage children to follow up interesting TV programmes by checking out books on similar topics e.g. national geography, doing activities featured on programmes or singing songs they have heard.
- Draw attention to examples that illustrate your family values. For instance when children on television help each other or share.
- If you can record, tape those programmes to watch at convenient times, so you are not at the mercy of the television schedule.
- If a child shows symptoms of attention difficulty, try eliminating television for a trial period.
"Material things are a poor substitute to spending time with a child. Remember that memories of being with you, unlike toys will last forever for your child"