Television is one of the most essential innovations of humanity. Its role in the life of both adults and children is immense as it brings people entertainment, provides knowledge, and gives relaxation. A wise use of television is considered to be a very effective and powerful tool for educating children. Educational television is a source of deep knowledge and extensive awareness of the world, nature, environment, and science. Excessive and unmonitored use of television can have an adverse impact on the growth and development of very young children. Thus, it is imperative that parents learn how to effectively filter the types of shows that children are watching, as well as the number of hours spent in front of a TV set. Areas that are affected are listed as follows: 1) mental; 2) social/emotional; and 3) physical. There is nothing wrong with watching television; however, it is important to develop discipline when it comes to the amount of time expended in watching TV. It is also important to develop a practical way to choose the appropriate shows that children can observe. By creating a culture of discipline with regards to the appropriate time and the right kind of shows that children can enjoy, parents ensure that the adverse effect of TV on the mental, emotional/social, and physical development of children can be avoided.
Due to the availability of cable TV and the Internet, children who are living in the 21st century are bombarded with information, images, and sound bytes coming in through their homes via the television screen. Cable TV, free TV, and even TV shows transmitted through the Internet are harmful to their development in the absence of adult supervision. Parents must be present and constantly monitoring what they are watching. If parents are aware of the impact of television, then they will do everything in their power to monitor and prescribe the right time that their children can watch TV.
In the study that measured the effect of TV viewing, researchers concluded, “Spending a disproportionate amount of time on any one leisure activity at the expense of others will hamper social and educational development” (Subrahmanyam et al., 2000). If parents are not careful, they will learn later on that the TV screen has become the surrogate parents to their sons and daughters. It is a TV set that shapes the minds and hearts of their children. Without a doubt, TV shows can be considered as effective tools in enhancing the learning experience of children. However, it is also a double-edge sword, because, on the other hand, it can be considered as a Pandora’s Box that can unleash a host of problems, in a place where children are the most vulnerable – in their homes (Carroll, 2006).
In addition to the mental impact of TV shows, there is also the emotional or social impact, because their worldview is being shaped by the things that they see on a daily basis. If they are watching adult shows that openly promote promiscuity or risky behavior, they may think that this is the norm, when in fact they are watching fiction – a world created by TV producers, actors, and creative people. Aside from the mental and social effect, there is also the physical effect of unregulated use of a TV set. Children are becoming obese due to the lack of physial exercise.
Television is a good educator as it provides children with useful information and knowledge, as well as helps them to find answers to numerous questions. Modern television presupposes the use of a number of gadgets including a video camera, lap-top computers and others. Watching television has become a recreational activity, and it assists a child to take part in family discussions related to the seen topics and ideas. It helps children and parents strengthen their relations. Television presents children a certain image of the world and the surrounding environment, as well as it gives an idea of what is acceptable and inadmissible in the society. It is a portrayal of life norms and reflection of social principles.
Television may be a great source of communication as it encourages children to share ideas with their parents. Videotape is often treated as one of the best ways to encourage discussion that has a positive influence on parent-children relations. It is a good practice when parents watch television with their children as they can immediately answer questions that arise during the process of getting information. It is also a good opportunity to monitor or limit exposure to material that should not be viewed by children. Therefore, television is a form of communication in which family members interact.
However, the absence of discipline when it comes to creating a firm schedule will result into missed opportunities to study lessons, acquire new knowledge, and learn how to solve math problems. As a result, there is not enough useful information that the brain can process in order for children to learn a new skill or to stockpile information that can help them later in life. As a consequence, their minds are filled with superficial information and ideas that may not even be age-appropriate. There is a current problem when it comes to literacy rate in this country. There are many solutions that were forwarded to improve the performance of children in school. It can be argued that a practical and cost-efficient strategy to improve children’s academic performance must begin at home, when parents find quality time to interact and guide their children when it comes to how they spend their free time.