During the past several decades, there have been heated debates regarding the adverse effects of television on viewers. The special attention has been paid to its influence on children and adolescents, who are believed to be the most perceptive to information (Guru, Nabi, & Raslana, 2013). Scholars argue that watching television reduces the amount of time children spend on active play, sport, and social contacts. It also affects their cognitive development and language skills, which may later affect academic performance (Barkham, 2009).
Moreover, research suggests there is a connection between increased violence and aggression and media, with some scientists arguing that watching violent movies makes children less empathetic (Robertson, McAnally, & Hancox, 2013). However, there is also evidence that the moderate use of television may be beneficial for children’s development. In this essay, I try to explore both negative and positive effects of media use and prove that with the adequate degree of supervision, television can be entertaining, educating, and fun.
Let me begin with analyzing the negative effects of television viewing. Extensive research shows that children spending too much time watching television lose a chance to engage in other social and developmental activities, such as communicating with peers, reading, writing, playing, etc. (Guru et al., 2013; Robertson et al., 2013). They also struggle to stay focused and may develop problems with eye movement. Because children engage in passive watching, they also fail to develop their speaking skills, and their vocabulary is extremely limited (Barkham, 2009). Besides, they risk developing obesity due to the lack of physical activity (Al-Ghamdi, 2013).
With the increasing levels of violence depicted in media, scientists have also begun questioning whether children watching violent TV programs and movies became predisposed to violence as well (Guru et al., 2013). It has been found that adolescents spending much time watching television are more likely to demonstrate antisocial behavior and aggression compared to their peers who viewed less television (Al-Ghamdi, 2013). Interestingly, it appears that this negative influence is similar for both male and female viewers. At the same time, one needs to emphasize that television is one of many factors that precede aggressive behavior, so these findings are mainly applicable to children already predisposed to violence (Guru et al., 2013).
However, the research on negative effects of television does not look quite convincing because of disparities in sample sizes, settings, and the complexity of the issue. It is still not clear how exactly television affects children’s cognitive development over time and how children’s own characteristics may contribute to adverse effects (Guru et al., 2013). More than that, some researchers suggest that focusing on educational programs and active interaction while watching TV can positively affect children’s development. Carefully planned programs watched under the supervision of parents may indeed be useful, but only if viewed moderately (Guru et al., 2013). In general, I think that although the negative effects of television cannot be denied, its influence has been somewhat exaggerated because otherwise, millions of young people and even adults who watched TV in childhood would have serious cognitive, social, and behavioral problems, which is obviously not true.
To summarize, evidence on the effects of television on children is contradictory. On the one hand, research shows that excessive TV viewing adversely affects children and adolescents and may lead to obesity, limited cognitive development, poor social and speaking skills, behavioral issues, and so on. On the other hand, there are many effective educational programs designed specifically for children. Besides, there is nothing bad in watching some entertaining programs or animation from time to time. We all did it and had a great time immersing into the fairytale atmosphere of child movies and programs.
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Al-Ghamdi, S. H. (2013). The association between watching television and obesity in children of school-age in Saudi Arabia. J Family Community Med., 20(2), 83–89. doi:10.4103/2230-8229.114767
Barkham, P. (2009). Television – not in front of the children? The Guardian. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/society/2009/oct/14/tv-children-harmful-effects
Guru, M. C., Nabi, A., & Raslana, R. (2013). Role of television in child development. Mass Communication and Journalism, 3(3). Retrieved from https://www.omicsonline.org/open-access/role-of-television-in-child-development-2165-7912.1000153.pdf
Robertson, L. A., McAnally, H. M., & Hancox, R. J. (2013). Childhood and adolescent television viewing and antisocial behavior in early adulthood. Pediatrics, 131(3), 439–446. doi:10.1542/peds.2012-1582