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There have been thousands of studies done on the effects of television on children. Most of these studies have leaned toward the negative effects that television has on children. According to a study by the University of Michigan, even though television can have positive effects it can also affect the health, behavior and family life of children in negative ways. Also while studies have been done on the effects that television has on children under the age of two there has been no clear evidence on the effects.
Some studies have shown that it may lead to learning and attention problems, but not the experts have agreed this is true.
Children are seeing more and more violence on television every day. Even in G rated movies children are subject to violent acts. All we have to do is look at some of the Disney movies over the years. While Snow White was a positive upbeat person that was nice to everyone, she was still killed by the wicked witch. The movie the Lion King shows children how Scar plotted the death of Mufasa and it shows Simba coming back for revenge. Then you have cartoons like The Simpsons and Family Guy. These show play up the use of foul language, violence, and disrespecting everyone, especially your parents. The characters on these shows have become idols. Bart Simpson and Stewie have become idols to children. They talk like them and act like them. They think that when they are violent or they curse or when they disrespect their parents it is funny and something that they should do.
An average American child will see 200,000 violent acts and 16,000 murders on TV by the age of 18 (www.med.umich.edu). This viewing of violent acts are desensitizing are children to violence. They are becoming less aware of violent acts or just don’t care that much when they happen right in front of them. There is a research report that was written in 2009 by Brad J. Bushman and Craig A. Anderson called “Comfortably Numb The Desensitizing Effects of Violent Media on Helping Others.
This research shows the how violence in movies and on television desensitizes people to violent acts or the plights of others around them. They are also their fear of the world is increased. They are seeing that not only the bad guys are violent but the good guys are extremely violent and that they get away with the violence. Children are not sure who they can trust or who is good. Some even see that by becoming the “good guy” you can get away with more bad behavior. According to KidHealth.org, TV characters often depict risky behaviors, such as smoking and drinking, these same characters are reinforcing gender-role and racial stereotypes.
I know that our doctor told my daughter to watch Teen Mom. This show may show the downsides to teen parenthood, in my opinion it has kids thinking it would be cool to have a child and then maybe they could get on television. I have spoken to several different people from my daughters parenting class and I have talked to my daughters Family First specialist. They have agreed that shows like these are not good models for teen moms. Yes, they may show the difficulties that these girls have but they also show these girls still having sex, disrespecting their parents and fighting. Also all have agreed that too much television and television that is not supervised can be harmful to children.
According to KidsHealth.org children who spend too much time in front of the television are more likely to become overweight. Children are spending more time in front of the television which is making them less active. They do not go outside and play sports or socialize with other children. Children are more likely to constantly snack while watching television. These are not always healthy snacks. They are things like cookies and chips. They see the commercials for these and their minds tell them that they want them. By limiting the time that your children are watching television you will be able to help them become more active and more sociable.
On the reverse side of this situation, though, is that some of the negativity can be reduced as long as parents limit the amount of time that children spend in front of the television. It has been suggested that no more than 2-3 hours a day of television for older children and 1-2 hours of television for younger children. Also parents need to supervise and be aware of what their children are watching. Television can be a learning experience as long as parents take the time to talk to their children about what is being watched on television.
Parents can also be a positive role model for their children by limiting the time they watch television. They need to watch more positive programs when they are watching television with their children. If there is something bad on the show they need to take the time to explain to their children the behavior that they saw on the television program was not appropriate and why it wasn’t appropriate.