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Hazards of TV Viewing, a Sociological Perspective

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    Hazards of TV Viewing, a Sociological Perspective

    Thesis Statement: ‘TV series harms, separates and gives a distorted sociological perspective of adulthood to childreMedian between the ages of eight and eleven.’

    I. TV series harms children: A. This statement accurately describes the children of today, who start watching TV shows even before they start walking or talking.

    1. In more cases than not, children are already addicted to TV shows by the time they enter school, and habits formed so early are quite difficult to break, as experts state.

    2. Take a look at the statistics on the TV watching habits of children: two thirds of all infants watch at least two hours of TV everyday, while children under the age of six watch about two hours of TV, and also DVDs and other videos as well.

    3. Older children, aged from eight to eighteen spend at an average about four hours watching TV, and an additional two hours on the computer. B. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, infants below two must not watch any TV at al, while children in the age group of eight to eleven can watch about an hour of TV everyday, provided it is strictly monitored, and they watch only quality programs. (Gavin L Mary 2008)

    1. Watching too much TV can have devastating effects on the growing and developing child. As Teresa Barat states, TV, and the violence inbuilt into the shows that are popular among children of this age group, eight to eleven, have a negative impact on children.

    2. A study showed that there could be almost four acts of violence every minute, or once every fifteen seconds on TV, everyday. (Barat, Teresa 2002)

    3. Not even Disney cartoon shows, which all parents consider ‘safe’ for their children are exempt from showing violence: these shows average twenty acts of violence every hour. (Raj, Kamna 2000) C. In addition, children can definitely be affected mentally and physically simply by watching too many TV shows.

    1. In fact, these are the symptoms, according to experts, that children may start to show if they have been watching too much TV: obesity, and related diabetes, premature puberty, especially in girls, in severe cases, autism, ADHD and even dementia.  (Sood, Priyank 2007)

    2. In addition, TV viewing can lead to behavioral problems, and under developed social skills. (“Childhood TV viewing a risk for behavior problems” 2007)

    II. TV watching separates children: A. 1. The social impact that TV can have on young children in the age group of eight to eleven can be devastating, especially when considered in the long term. According to David S Bickham, a research scientist, “We found that the more TV they watch, the less time they spend with their friends.” 2. Research has shown that TV can even end up separating children into specific categories, like for example, one child may be considered a loser, another, a geek and nerd, and a third, a hero, all based on the TV shows that they have watched.(“TV and Video Game Violence have negative impact” 2006)

    B. 1. One can take a look at the growth of TV, and the changes in program content through the years to have a better idea of the TV content today. During the 1950’s, children could watch action filled adventures, like Lassie or the Lone Ranger, and so on while during the 1960’s, animation was touted in a big way on TV, with shows such as Flintstones, Jetsons and Space Ghost.

    2. During the 1970’s, the content changed to sixty or ninety minute capsules in the likes of Scooby Laffalympics and The New Super Friends Hour. Children could watch these shows the entire morning.

    3. In the next decade, live action shows began to make an entry onto TV, and channels such as Nick, Disney and Discovery produced programs just for children. During the 1990’s, which was when TV shows were controlled by the Children’s’ Television Act, educational shows began to be available.

    C.1. However, what is important is that producers of TV shows operate under the assumption that the TV audience of children all has short attention spans, that they will watch endless reruns, that while girls will watch boys programs, boys will never watch girls’.

    2. When combined with the advertising that is aired on all the TV channels meant for children, the fact cannot be denied that TV can have an adverse on children’s social skills and on their normal development. For example, when an ad shows a slim girl enjoying a lot of attention, the obese girl watching the show will feel humiliated and sad, leading to immediate loss of self esteem. (Alexander, Allison n.d)

    D.1. TV can bring in changes in group identity, socialization, and the general hierarchy followed by all children, and several children feel that unless they ‘conform’ to the TV images of heroes or superstars like Hannah Montana, for example, they will not be accepted into the group, leading to great stress when they find that they cannot.

    2. This is when separation occurs; while some children may be considered geeks, some may be considered losers, and others, winners.  (Meryowitz, Joshua 1985)

    3. There can be no doubt at all that TV has had and will in all probability will always have a strong impact, both positive and negative, on children, which would last through adolescence into adulthood.

    4. Most importantly, research has shown that in children who are already pre disposed to violence or aggressive behaviors, or to lowered self esteem and self confidence, or any other forms of abnormal behaviors, TV can play a substantial negative role.

    E.1. When this is combined with indifferent parenting, and also unsatisfactory social relationships, which may or not have been influenced by the TV, and low psychological well being, TV shows can have an adverse impact on vulnerable children. (Comstock, George 2008) 2. In fact, the more time a child spent watching TV; the more likely it would be that he would become more aggressive and violent than his peers who did not watch as much TV as him. (Johnson JG 2002) 3. TV viewing can also have an adverse impact on the weight of a child, and in some cases, may lead to incidence of obesity. Obesity can in turn lead to lowered self esteem, and to other psychological problems, which can become exaggerated when the poor child watches cool and slim looking people on her favorite TV shows, like for example Hanna Montana. 4. It must be remembered that girls are more prone to lower self confidence about their bodies than boys of the same age.  5. The time spent watching TV has often been associated with obesity, not only because this is an example of extremely sedentary behavior, but also because of the fact that TV advertising influences directly the things that a child chooses to eat, and it is an acknowledged fact that most of it may be unhealthy and high fat stuff. This is because the child may compare herself unfavorably with the models on TV. F.1. Even worse, statistics prove that TV watching may actually lead the viewer away from reading and other literary skills, and may have a direct adverse influence on his creativity and imagination as well. (Malnor K 2006) 2. TV viewing at an early age, and constant TV viewing can have negative impact on a child’s developmental and cognitive abilities, feel experts. 3. This may have a direct impact on their Math and language skills and abilities, and one would not be able to predict accurately the impact that this may have if all children were to watch TV all the time; perhaps this may produce a generation of foolish and under developed and retarded adults. (Gunter, Barry, Oates Caroline, Blades Mark 2005)

    III. Watching TV can give a distorted perspective of adulthood to children: A.1. Today, research proves that even the youngest children of America have a TV in their bedroom, and that they spend several hours a day sitting or lounging on their sofas and eating mindlessly, watching TV shows whose content may or not inspire and educate. 2. In fact, viewing excessive TV may fail to stimulate these children, and they may never be able to develop higher habits like reading and writing and social communication. It can be stated that TV is in general a great harm and threat to the overall development of a child, especially in the age group of two to eleven or twelve. 3. Today, media is targeting children more and more everyday, with specially made TV programs, and ads that are created with children in mind. One can of course argue that the parent must be able to regulate TV time, but in more cases than not, this may not be possible, when both parents work outside the home and do not have the time or the patience to supervise, when temptation is just a switch away. B.1. According to Vicky Rideout, “So much new media is being targeted at infants and toddlers, it’s critical that we learn more about the impact it’s having on child development.” In other words, these are the children who do not spend much time outdoors playing with other kids their age, and they become addicted to sitting in front of a TV, mindlessly watching the action. 2. This will not only have a negative impact on the reading and learning abilities of the children, but also lead to separation of kids, as mentioned earlier, when they may become identified as ‘cool’ or ‘nerdy’ or ‘geeky’, even if they are actually not. 3. This can have dangerous consequences on the child and its eventual development and growth into adulthood; in fact research has shown that TV watching at a very young age, and excessive TV watching, and unsupervised TV watching as related to the content may well lead to a disturbance and disorder in the development of the pre-frontal cortex, the area of the human brain that is responsible for planning and organizing behaviors related to self control, attention, and moral values.   (Graham, Rob 2003) C.1. How can one handle the problem? Is there in fact a solution to this growing phenomenon, where our children are being bombarded against their unformed wills by TV shows and advertising campaigns to such an extent that they lose their self confidence, self esteem, and they fail to learn to read and write, they fail to develop their social skills, they become separated into groups against their wills, and they end up less imaginative, less creative, less cognitively developed, and in fact, less intelligent than they could have been, if they had not watched the mindless content on TV?

    Conclusion: Parents must now come forward and take over the mental and physical welfare and well being of the future generations. They must take the time to read out aloud to their children, so that children do not feel tempted to watch TV. They must also regulate TV watching, not only the programs but also the timings, and make sure that children spend more time outdoors with people of their own age, than inside the house, cooped up in the bedroom, watching empty TV shows. 3. Most importantly, all parents must use their common sense in regulating TV timings and content for their children, while at the same time giving more importance to sports, and academics, and the development of the much needed social skills that one needs to survive in the world today. (“Too much TV can have negative impact on children” 2001)

    The purpose of this paper is to persuade the audience of newspaper readers and to convince them that excessive and unregulated TV watching can cause great harm to the early development of a child. The tone of the paper is serious and this tone will perhaps be able to persuade more individuals to encourage better and healthier habits in their children.
    Thesis: “Watching TV can cause great harm to the young child in several areas like development of cognitive and social skills, breeding excessive violent and aggressive traits, causing low self esteem, and leading to a distorted perspective of adulthood in them.”

    Works Cited

    Alexander, Allison “Children and Television” MBC (n.d) October 30 2008
    Gunter, Barry, Oates Caroline, Blades Mark “Advertising to children on TV” Google Book Search (2005) October 30 2008
    Comstock, George “A Sociological Perspective on TV Violence and Aggression” American Behavioral Scientist (2008) October 30 2008
    Johnson JG “Television viewing and aggressive behavior” Science  (2002) October 30 2008
    Meryowitz, Joshua “No Sense of Place” Google Book Search (1985) October 30 2008
    Malnor K  “TV and impact on sociological perspective” (2006)October 30 2008
    Raj, Kamna “Effects of television on children” (2000) October 30 2008
    Gavin L Mary “How TV affects your child” Kidshealth (2008) October 30 2008

    Sood, Priyank “Viewing too much TV harmful for children” The Medguru (2007) October 30 2008
    Barat, Teresa “Children and TV violence” (2002) October 30 2008
    “Childhood TV viewing a risk for behavior problems” Media effects on infants and toddlers (2007) October 30 2008
    “TV and Video Game Violence have negative impact” Common Sense Media (2006) October 30 2008
    Graham, Rob “New study finds children” Kaiser Family Foundation (2003) October 30 2008
    “Too much TV can have negative impact on children” Newsline (2001) October 30 2008


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