Television and Your Children

Are you concerned about the impact of television on your children? Have you debated whether or not your one-year-old should be allowed to watch television? If you have, then you are not alone. Many parents are concerned about the influence television has on children. As parents, you are constantly warned of the dangers that are lurking in children's programs. But is any of this really true?

Television Facts
It has been estimated that children in the United States watch, on average, 23 hours of television a week! That is more than any other activity they might participate in aside from sleeping. If you do the math, then you'll realize that the average child today will have watched anywhere between seven and ten years of television by the time they're 70. It's not surprising, then, that television has been shown to be the most influential form of media on children.

The Negative Side of TV
There are definitely some drawbacks to allowing children to watch too much TV. Many parents are already aware that there is too much violence portrayed on television today. This sends the message to children that violence is not only acceptable but a legitimate way of dealing with problems. It has also been suggested that some children tend to exhibit more aggressive behavior when they watch a lot of violent programming. Children's cartoons have often been slammed for portraying too much violence whether it is of an actual physical combat variety or immature clownishness.

Sex is also in ample supply on TV. The problem with sex on television is that it is usually depicted very casually, with no consequences such as an unwanted pregnancy or a sexually transmitted infection. As well, materialism tends to run rampant on television. Objects are shown to be the source of happiness and the proof of personal wealth and success.

In addition to all this, it has been said that television promotes passivity while minimizing creativity and inhibiting imagination. Others feel that television hampers a child's ability to read and encourages short attention spans. Many parents are concerned by the fact that young children are so impressionable. It is well known that children learn and adapt their behavior by what they see going on around them. If a child does nothing but watch television unsupervised, there is a good chance that they will be affected negatively by it.

Television and Weight Issues
New studies have shown that television viewing is a contributing factor to weight problems in children. The more time your child spends inside watching television, the less time they spend outside being active. This passivity, coupled with the tendency for children to watch TV while munching on snacks, means more and more children are becoming overweight.

Television commercials can also contribute to this pattern. Many food commercials geared towards children are for unhealthy food items like cookies, chips, soda pop, and other sugary snacks. This leads more kids to want these products and then have their parents buy them.

While it has been noted that watching television can make children overweight, at the same time it can also give children a negative body image. Young girls and boys who are constantly seeing abnormally thin women and muscular men will assume that this is the standard body type. Today, children as young as six-years-old have an understanding of what it means to be "fat." In fact, a survey done of six-year-old girls revealed that 40% of them wished they were thinner. Other studies have shown that 50% of eight-year-old girls have tried a diet.

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