Tuesday, May 17, 2011

How TV affects kids

Most kids plug into the world of television long before they enter school. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF):two-thirds of infants and toddlers watch a screen an average of 2 hours a day
  • 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.The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that kids under 2 years old not watch any TV and that those older than 2 watch no more than 1 to 2 hours a day of quality programming.
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.
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.Of course, television, in moderation, can be a good thing: Preschoolers can get help learning the alphabet on public television, grade schoolers can learn about wildlife on nature shows, and parents can keep up with current events on the evening news. No doubt about it — TV can be an excellent educator and entertainer.
But despite its advantages, too much television can be detrimental:Children who consistently spend more than 4 hours per day watching TV are more likely to be overweight.
  • Kids who view violent acts are more likely to show aggressive behavior but also fear that the world is scary and that something bad will happen to them.TV characters often depict risky behaviors, such as smoking and drinking, and also reinforce gender-role and racial stereotypes.Children's advocates are divided when it comes to solutions. Although many urge for more hours per week of educational programming, others assert that no TV is the best solution. And some say it's better for parents to control the use of TV and to teach kids that it's for occasional entertainment, not for constant escapism.
That's why it's so important for you to monitor the content of TV programming and set viewing limits to ensure that your kids don't spend too much time watching TV.

To give you perspective on just how much violence kids see on TV, consider this: The average American child will witness 200,000 violent acts on television by age 18. Kids may become desensitized to violence and more aggressive. TV violence sometimes begs for imitation because violence is often promoted as a fun and effective way to get what you want.
 Many violent acts are perpetrated by the "good guys," whom kids have been taught to emulate. Even though kids are taught by their parents that it's not right to hit, television says it's OK to bite, hit, or kick if you're the good guy. This can lead to confusion when kids try to understand the difference between right and wrong. And even the "bad guys" on TV aren't always held responsible or punished for their actions.

Young kids are particularly frightened by scary and violent images. Simply telling kids that those images aren't real won't console them, because they can't yet distinguish between fantasy and reality. Behavior problems, nightmares and difficulty sleeping may be a consequence of exposure to media violence.
Older kids can also be frightened by violent depictions, whether those images appear on fictional shows, the news, or reality-based shows. Reasoning with kids this age will help them, so it's important to provide reassuring and honest information to help ease fears. However, consider not letting your kids view programs that they may find frightening.
Risky Behaviors
TV is full of programs and commercials that depict risky behaviors such as sex and substance abuse as cool, fun, and exciting. And often, there's no discussion about the consequences of drinking alcohol, doing drugs, smoking cigarettes, and having premarital sex.For example, studies have shown that teens who watch lots of sexual content on TV are more likely to initiate intercourse or participate in other sexual activities earlier than peers who don't watch sexually explicit shows.
Alcohol ads on TV have actually increased over the last few years and more underage kids are being exposed to them than ever. A recent study by the Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth (CAMY) found that youth exposure to alcohol ads on TV increased by 30% from 2001 to 2006.

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