Remember when you were young and used to spend most of the time outside, riding a bike or playing with your neighborhood friends? Well, it seems like those days are over -- only less than a quarter of kids spend time outside anymore. On the contrary, it seems like watching TV has become the default entertainment for kids of all ages. Kids under 6 years old spend an average of 2 hours in front of the big screen. On top of that, kids and teens spend about 4 hours a day in front of TV and another 2 additional hours playing video games.
"Save the kids" - Pen drawing & mixed media
©Copyright 2012 Eni Oken
These numbers are huge compared to what the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends, which is that no child under 2 years old watch any TV at all, and all other kids watch only 1 to 2 hours of educational programs.
It seems like the TV can produce several problems among children, notably:
- Children become premature "couch potatoes" and may become overweight;
- Kids watching violent programs are more likely to become aggressive; or scared of the world;
- TV tends to show and glorify unrealistic stereotypes, such as excessive vanity, smoking, drinking, fashion extremes, risky behavior, drugs, etc.
- Commercials tend to promote and encourage excessive commercial purchasing; and advertise false happiness through the acquisition of merchandise;
- Values and morals shown on TV programs are not always in line with the morals used in the household, causing children to become confused about their parent's choices;
- If parents do not screen what their children are watching, they might end up watching programs that are not appropriate for their young age, and which can emotionally scar or instruct incorrectly.
Here is a really interesting article at Kidshealth.org which discusses a lot more about the effects of TV over children, and also offers some valuable techniques on how to use the TV effectively.