Children and television
Television viewing among children has been a source of many debates and research, linking the amount of television and the type of programming to the physical health of the children, their mental health and their mental growth. Implementing on the suggestions given by researchers and scientists is not so easy.
The Department of Education states that children in the United States watch an average of three to five hours of television every day. British children spend an average of five hours and 20 minutes in front of a screen a day. In India, kids falling in the six to 17 age group watch three to four hours of television a day.
In the 1950s, children's programs and the benefits that television could presumably bring to the family were highly touted selling points for television sets. By 1951, the networks' schedules included up to 27 hours of children's programs.
Why should I be aware of this?
- Children devote much of their free time to watching television--seemingly enamored of the screen--and continuous contact is thought to influence the way they understand and interpret both television and the world in which they live.
- The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) suggests that children should not watch more than two hours of television a day. However, the average child in the U.S. regularly watches between 2-3 hours of television a day, and many children have a television set in their bedroom.
- Research shows that on an average, a typical Indian household has the television set turned on for about seven hours each day. Watching television is a passive event. Children and adults remain completely immobile while viewing televisions. Most of these viewing experiences are quiet and non – interactive.
- Children absorb millions of images from the television set depending upon his choices. This has an impact on his physical and mental health and growth.
All about children and television
Children between the ages two and 11 spend an average of one full day per week watching television. This is a very familiar scenario in many homes today. With both parents away at work, in the urban, middle class families this trend is very common. Even when parents are at home, watching television is still the favoured family pastime.
Television and infants and toddlers
The first 2 years of life are considered a critical time for brain development. TV and other electronic media can get in the way of exploring, playing, and interacting with parents and others, which encourages learning and healthy physical and social development. Two-thirds of infants and toddlers watch a screen an average of 2 hours a day. Experts feel that the first 2 years of life are considered a critical time for brain development. TV and other electronic media can get in the way of exploring, playing, and interacting with parents and others, which encourages learning and healthy physical and social development. Activities such as playing with toys, digging sand, watching birds and squirrels, listening to music, seeing picture books, exploring their surroundings and even playing with water have been found to play a very important role in the healthy development of social, emotional, and intellectual skills.
Television and older kids
It has been observed that kids under age 6 watch an average of about 2 hours of screen media a day, primarily TV and videos or DVDs. Kids and teens 8 to 18 years spend nearly 4 hours a day in front of a TV screen and almost 2 additional hours on the computer (outside of schoolwork) and playing video games.
As kids get older, too much screen time can interfere with activities such as being physically active, reading, doing homework, playing with friends, and spending time with family. Excessive television watching can impede language skills, which are best developed through reading and interactions with others in conversation and play. Hours spent watching TV also make risk-taking and social relationships difficult for many children.
Violence on television and children
Watching acts of violence on television or aggressive behaviour is being researched to find links between television and bullying, school violence and instances of child behaving in a violent or an aggressive manner. Though it is yet to be proven conclusively that viewing television leads to a child acting in a violent manner, but experts are confident that this contributes to promoting a view that violence is common and acceptable in everyday life. Statistics indicate that the typical American child will be exposed to 12,000 violent acts on television a year.
Television watching benefits a child
Television, in moderation can be a good thing. A well – guided television viewing increases the general vocabulary of the child, provides the opportunities for them to learn about all kinds of things, which helps them in making choices regarding the area of interest. They get exposure to a wide range of activities that they may not get a chance to encounter. Television is probably the most effective of all media that aims to create social awareness.
- Preschoolers can get help learning the alphabet on public television.
- Grade schoolers can learn about wildlife on nature shows
- It can engage children to think and ask questions.
- It encourages children to read.
- It promotes creativity and critical thinking.
- The programs reinforce the values that are important to you.
- Encourages positive behaviour.
- Television can teach a child about the world and about people that they may not have access to.
- Inspires them to learn more
- Entertains your children
- creativity is increased to a higher level through some shows in the tv
Disadvantage of television
Television watching might be a problem if:
- It exposes children to violence as a means of problem solving.
- Occupies too much of your/their time.
- Introduces subject matter that is not appropriate for children
- Allures children to buy different products.
- It might promote negative behaviour.
What can I do?
- Children learn from their parents. If you watch a lot of television, the chances are that your child will also develop the same habit.
- Know what your child is watching.
- Limit the hours that a child watches television, besides censoring what he watches.
- Television should not be allowed to interfere with meal times and sleeping hours.
- Do not put a television in your child's room.
- Work out a timetable for watching television with children
90 degrees -- What we do not know yet?
- Obese and overweight children increase their food intake by more than 100% after watching food advertisements on television; a study shows. The study was also particularly interesting in suggesting a strong connection between weight and susceptibility to over-eating when exposed to food adverts on television." Future studies are planned to investigate whether enhanced responsiveness to food adverts or the greater amount of television children are watching is a predictor of childhood obesity.
- Television viewing is not only linked to childhood obesity, but also to hypertension in children, according to a study. 
- The researchers found that each additional hour of weekend TV watching by five-year-old children over the AAP's suggested two hours may increase the risk of obesity in 30 year olds by 7%.
- A ban on fast food advertisements in the United States could reduce the number of overweight children by as much as 18 percent, according to a new study.
- Eating fast food and watching TV add up to a high risk for obesity and diabetes, according to a study. 
- Infants and toddlers who sleep less than 12 hours a day and who view two or more hours of television per day have a 16 percent chance of becoming overweight by age 3.
- Approximately 40 percent of three-month old children and about 90 percent of children age 24 months and under regularly watch television, DVDs or videos, according to a report in the May issue of Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.
- Early television exposure in children ages 1-3 is associated with attention problems at age 7, according to a study. 
- Very young children who spent a few hours a week watching educational programs such as Sesame Street, Mister Rogers' Neighborhood, Reading Rainbow, Captain Kangaroo, Mr. Wizard's World and 3-2-1 Contact had higher academic test scores 3 years later than those who didn't watch educational programs, the researchers found.
- Daily television viewing for two or more hours in early childhood can lead to behavioral problems and poor social skills, according to a study of children 2.5 to 5.5 years of age.
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 How Television Viewing Affects Children
- ↑ Life through a lens: how Britain's children eat, sleep and breathe TV:Guardian UK
- ↑ TV Food Advertisements Increase Obese Children's Appetite By 134 Percent:ScienceDaily
- ↑ Hypertension In Obese Children Linked To Television Viewing:ScienceDaily
- ↑ How Does Increased Television Watching 'Weigh Into' Childhood Obesity? ScienceDaily
- ↑ Ban On Fast Food TV Advertising Would Reverse Childhood Obesity Trends, Study Shows:ScienceDaily
- ↑ Fast Food And 'The Tube': A Combo For Heart Disease Risk:ScienceDaily
- ↑ Less Sleep, More TV Leads To Overweight Infants And Toddlers:ScienceDaily
- ↑ Many Children Younger Than Two Watch TV Regularly, But Content Varies:ScienceDaily
- ↑ Study Finds Link Between Television Viewing And Attention Problems In Children:ScienceDaily
- ↑ Television Can Enhance Children's Intellectual Development, Study Finds:Science Daily
- ↑ Childhood TV Viewing A Risk For Behavior Problems:ScienceDaily