Research Paper on Television and Children
At various ages, children observe and understand TV in various ways. In general, it depends on their attention, the method with the help of which they process information, their interest to information, and, of course, their own experiences of life. Television, films and advertising significantly effect on our society and, particularly, on the children. The amount of impact is caused by different aspects such as how much children watch TV and alone or with adults, as well as whether their parents discuss what they see on TV with kids. Children’s age and personality are also important factors influencing the amount of TV impact. Television can render both positive and negative influence on children. To prevent the potential negative influence of TV, it’s very crucial to understand how the television can negatively affect children. Thus, the task of this paper is to examine the negative effects of television on our children.
The negative impact of TV on children
The TV has a huge influence on how children perceive the world. The children spend more time watching TV than they spend hours in their school. It is known that television have positive and negative sides. A positive side of TV viewing is the possibility to see and study various cultures and lifestyles. Today children go to school more informed than children before the occurrence of television. Besides, TV is well-known way for entertainment. From the other hand, many children watch TV too much and therefore it may cause some negative consequences as follows below (“Summary: The Effects of Television”).
It is well-known that watching violent television programs and a rise in violent behaviors by children are significantly related to each other (Johnson, Cohen, Smailes, Kasen and Brook 2468). Television includes many violence acts not only in adult crime films, but in slapstick comedies, in cartoons and in the nightly news as well. Many studies showed that television violence makes the children more aggressive and cruel, less sensitive and more frightened of the world around them. Watching of violence reduces sensitivity of children to real actions of violence. Other studies connect television or newspaper publicity of suicides to a high risk of suicide at children (Gould, Shaffer and Kleinman 90).
Watching some programs may promote irresponsible sexual behavior at children (Stasburger 747). Images of hypersexual behavior, casual sexual collisions without an obvious consequence, exploitative programs such as ABC’s “Are You Hot?” and sex exploitation in advertising may cause negative consequences for children. Such films, programs and shows promote young people to have sexual relations earlier. Such sexual behavior becomes as a norm for many younger kids, though some of them may be a little bit physically and mentally traumatized by too early sexual problems.
Despite of the fact that television can be a strong method of educating children about the risks and responsibilities of sexual behavior, such problems as sexually transmitted infections and undesirable pregnancy are rarely discussed in programs with sexual content (“Television’s Impact on Kids”).
Research states that children who spend more time at TV tend to think that men and women have specific roles in our society (Kent and Moy 2). It is evident that television usually shows women as obedient and weak in comparison with men who are usually depicted as rigid and dominating (Steinberg and Kincheloe). It may provide kids with a full understanding of what they are expected in the future.
Influence on Self-Image
Influence on self-image, specifically of teens, is well-documented and crucial. The main negative consequences caused by television over the last decade in regard of self-image are depression, eating disorders, and high increases in bulimia, anorexia and self-mutilation.
Rudeness and Vulgarity
Today it is observed that extremely rude and vulgar television programs normalize high aggressiveness, lack of consideration of others, lack of courtesy and respect and public vulgarity. All such behavior undoubtedly influences the behavior of children in our society.
Effects on healthy child development
Increased television watching of any kind has evident physiological and psychological negative effects on children. It is called as the «couch potato» syndrome. Some studies indicate that even benign television content reduces creativity and imagination of children, their physical activity, and increases obesity, or fatness. In addition, it leads to lower grades in school, reduced ability to handle conflict and stress, and aggressive behavior in relation with peers. By the way, childhood obesity can be extremely encouraged by strong junk food advertising to young kids on TV.
Late-night TV causes daytime sleepiness
Late-night TV watching and violent shows have been associated with sleep problems in children. The emotional stress resulted from night shows prevent children from dream and may lead to nightmares. In addition, wrong samples of sleep can force children to be less alert within day, also promoting poor performance is school (Miller).
It is very important to know that excessive television watching may have a harmful influence on learning and academic performance of children (Strasburger 145). Especially it is evident if the time of TV watching displaces healthy mental and physical activities. Most part of kids’ free time must be spent in such activities as reading, exploring nature, playing, music or sports (“Television’s Impact on Kids”). Besides, the time of TV watching significantly decreases communication with family and peers (James).
Influence of advertising manipulation, or commercialization
It is worth to take into account the influence of commercialism. There are a lot of manipulative commercial messages on TV and even at school every day. Companies try to manipulate children and with this aim they hire psychologists to help effect children. This is called as the «art of whine-making.» The excessive number of commercial messages has created a chronic dissatisfaction in teens and, many psychologists consider that these messages have increased depressions in children. The other negative effect is that advertising on television promotes a requirement to buy something (e.g., toys).
The role of education and parents
Several studies state that parents play an essential role in social learning of their children, but if views of parents are not discussed with children, the medium may teach and impact them by default (“Impact of media use on children and youth” 303). As an example, in a report from the American Academy of Pediatrics Task Force on Children and Television, it was concluded that:
“TV viewing promotes an inclination toward violence, an apathy when actual violence is seen, passive learning, provides unrealistic messages regarding substance abuse (drugs, alcohol, and tobacco), encourages the use of drugs, alcohol, and tobacco, delivers an unrealistic view of problem-solving and/or conflict resolution and it is associated with obesity because of «high caloric snacks» consumption” (Gottlieb).
In summary, viewing of television renders an important impact on development and behavior of children. Television may be both positive and negative for children, and many studies have paid special attention to the television impact on society and, in particular, on children. Today there is an important task to prevent the negative influence of TV on children. It is obvious that quality-oriented programming for children must be created in near future. Additionally, talking to children at home with parents and in school with teachers about their favorite programs and many other programs and films can help children get a better understanding of things on TV and in world in the whole.
Therefore, parents as the biggest influence in the lives of the their children must control the situation and try to regulate their television viewing. Since we will never be capable to convince the mass-media to decrease advancing violence and sex, especially, on TV, we can try to observe to what our children are subjected and conduct them and speak with them about the programs they watch, especially if they are with negative content.
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