There have been many studies done on the effects of T.V. watching, which show both the positive and negative influence this magical box can have on the lives and minds of both children and adults. But can television watching actually be dangerous? Recent hospital reports say that over 12,000 injuries per year, in 2011 and 2012, have occurred due to televisions landing on people, mostly children. Is this trying to tell us something? It seems like a weird statistic – doesn’t it? If the weight alone of televisions have some crushing effects, what about the gravity of the content and how it is presented?
Studies say that children between the ages of 2-5 spend an average of 31 hours per week watching television, while those 6-11 years spend around 28 hours per week. These are the most critical years of a person’s life, where all developmental instructions and programs set in to become the blueprint or foundation for the child’s psyche that will affect the rest of their lives. True, there are positive, ‘learning’ shows on television, but how much should a person watch?
There is a movement called ‘unschooling’ taking place where parents allow their children to dictate what things are of interest to them and therefore these become the guiding forces behind their education. The philosophy behind this says that children inherently know what they need and what is part of their growth, and when they have ‘had enough’ of something, they will naturally move on to something else. In some cases, this means endless hours of television, late bed times and delayed reading and writing times until much older ages. Whether you agree with idea or not, the unschooling parents claim their children turn out just fine and pick up all the necessary skills ‘eventually.’
As the parent of a six year old boy, having tried several months of ‘unschooling’, comments “I can see the potential benefits, and yet the unstructured program was neither beneficial for me nor my son – as it became clear that television was going to rule the day, which in turn affected negative behavior.” Studies have shown that kids who watch shows with violent content are more likely to fear the world and show aggression, while more than an hour or two per day can also contribute to obesity problems.
The attention placed on the television is to the detriment of other activities such as eating, reading and writing, playing with other children and imagination time. More injury than the machine itself could do by falling on the children (unless of course it killed them) is done by spending so many hours staring into the thing. Eyes are affected by lack of exercise, brain development is halted in the way connections are made, since television promotes a sort of mental passivity which inhibits engagement of the mind. In some cases, television can inspire kids to act out what they see or build things to replicate television ideas, but this is only in certain children.
The violent content in today’s shows, both for children and adults alike is astonishing. Studies say that violent shows do not significantly increase violent tendencies in people, but I would beg to argue that stat. In the past 10 years alone, as shows and movies have started to include more graphic imagery and intensity, the over-all rates of violence in children has risen. We never experienced these cases of school shootings and the like in previous decades, this is a result of the change in content received by our culture.
Overall technology can be used for good or ill, and it is not the machine’s fault, but the user of the device which dictates how beneficial or injurious it can be. As parents, it is our responsibility to monitor the shows our children watch and choose programs which are beneficial to their growth and development. Television can cause injuries, yes physically on rare occasions, but more commonly through irresponsible viewing of content. Maybe we could all become more aware of the gravity of watching too much t.v. along with making sure to install them properly to guard against the earth’s magnetic pull.
Written by: Stasia Bliss