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How does Television affect children

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    The argument over whether or not children should watch television has become a debate as more and more technology comes into our culture. Many researchers have produced studies to see if television programs affect a child’s ability to learn. There have been many scholar articles written about how watching television can affect the way child can learn, teach bad eating habits, and many other issues that can come from watching the “tube”, although these studies do not show a control on the type of television that is presented. I believe that with parent controls television can be greatly beneficial for children.

    When kids watch TV what they are watching needs to be controlled by their parents or guardians. In the article “Media and Young Children’s Learning,” the authors state “… well-designed, age appropriate, educational television can be beneficial to children” (Anderson 40). If parents have control over the television children can gain educational lessons on subjects ranging from math to history, as well as behavioral lessons, like how to clean and act, for example. When it comes to the show “Barney and Friends” the show is geared towards pre-school aged children, the show teaches them a variety of lessons and at the end they “clean- up” and sing a song. Children take in the skill of cleaning because is portrayed in song, which excites the child and makes them want to clean-up. An article that was written in “The Future of Children” brings up a study that was conducted by giving questionnaires to parents asking them general questions about their children, what their children watch and how much they watch these shows. The questionnaires went on to ask how the children act, respond to others and what their educational skills are.

    The study showed that when parents take on the right responsibilities of how their children watch television the children can gain educational skills and improve their learning capabilities. As long as parents take procedures and steps, such as the amount of time the child watches TV, allowing only programs directed towards the children, and work with their children to understand the content, those kids benefit from this use of technology. Parents and researchers claim that television can harm a child’s ability to learn. In the Article “Does Television Rot Children’s Brains?” the article brings up how Matthew Gentzkow and Jesse Shapiro (economists from the University of Chicago) researched to find if television does harm a child’s ability to learn. They looked over the test scores of children in the late 1940s, when television was not so popular to the test scores of today’s children. The author Jensen said “Gentzkow and Shapiro’s results showed ‘very little difference and if anything a slight positive advantage’ in test scores of today’s children compared to test scores from the late 1940s” (Jensen 1). The findings can show researchers and parents that watching television will not affect a child’s ability to learn.

    Even when television was not such a big part of our culture children had the same if not less educational abilities. Viewing educational TV can be good for children. David C. Diehl and Stephanie C. Toelle have researched and found that: Research has shown that children’s exposure to television during the preschool years is predictive of academic outcomes during adolescence. What is notable about this research, however, is that it is the kind of television that really matters. For example, adolescents whose parents permitted them to watched more educational programming when they were young are more likely to have higher grades, read more books, place greater value on achievement, and show more creativity. On the other hand, adolescents who watched more violent or purely ‘entertainment’ television when they were young tend to do less well in school and have lower grades overall. Parenting is a major factor in determining both television viewing patterns and educational outcomes because parents who encourage their children to watch educational programs are more likely to value education and support early learning in a variety of other ways as well.( Diehl 3) These researchers saw between the lines of their own research and noticed that “bad television” is television that does not teach children anything good, while educational television teaches life lessons and skills that are good and will not affect children but may help in the long run.

    In a study of children and” Sesame Street,” the parents of children aged 3 or 5 years of age kept diaries of their children’s viewing over a 2.5 year span so that children’s vocabulary growth could be researched. This study revealed that the younger children (aged 3) who watched more “Sesame Street” between the age of 3 and 5 had greater vocabulary growth than those who watched fewer hours. Children aged 3 scored higher on school readiness, reading, number skills and vocabulary, if they were regular watchers. However, the children from five to seven did not show a difference in vocabulary growth, suggesting an ‘early window’ of opportunity where the effects of television are strongest. Viewing TV at an early age can enhance a child’s ability learn new words and understand what they mean to help children achieve better grades when in school and help them through life.

    Watching television has become part of our culture. In the article “Can Television be Good for Children?” the author writes: While all children are born with an innate human capacity to learn; television literacy requires some learned and taught skills. Children need to understand the world in which they live, including the way that it is represented in different symbolic forms. These representations will vary depending on a child’s home environment (the cultural, political and socio-economic background of the family) and where they live. Literacy, therefore, is about giving children access to representation, which allows them to understand and use the system that represents reality- including audiovisual representation of reality.

    This in the end will improve the way they can work within their culture. (Kaoruko 3) The world we live in today is based mainly on technology. Ed Palmer states “It is no idle forecast to say that TV will be the preeminent tool in learning for development during at least the first half of the 21st century”. If children were not to use television they would have a harder time grasping the concept of how to work the device when they get older. For adults it seems like second nature to turn on the “tube” but that is only because we have been using one since we were younger. The author of “The importance of exposing your children to technology” writes “The need to know how to use these tools will become essential to staying competitive later on in life” (Ryall). If parents were to completely take away the television from children not only would they being missing out but they will more than likely not use the television in the future. If they were to not use it may negatively impact their life in the end.

    With technology being such a big part of the world, if people do not use it, it will limit their opportunities. When it comes to television and children, children would be limited socially and creatively. For example, I work in an elementary school and most of the time the kids are discussing TV shows or video games. The children created bonds by having similarities. If one of these children did not get the opportunity to see or play the same thing they would not be able to discuss it with the other children, which would give the child less chances to form relationships based on likes and dislikes. Creatively the child would be unable to play games or sing song with the other children because they would not understand what the other children are doing.

    The debate of whether or not television is good or bad for children in our country is enormous. The authors of “The Roll of Educational Television in Changing the Intergroup Attitudes of Children” say that “[t]elevision can increase [a child’s] self-control, sharing, and cooperation” (Gorn 1). The article shows that children can gain these skills from not only experience but by seeing their role models (characters or actors/actresses) doing or using the skills on television. The article is based on a study that was conducted at a day care with children ranging for three to six. In the study children were placed into two separate groups for five days. During these days group one had normal days with some television, while group two had normal days with no television.

    The reason for the study was to see how the children acted and responded during and at the end of the day. Children of group one showed better attitudes and performed better with others throughout the day better then group two. Each day group one also pick-up after themselves with less direction when referred to “clean up like they did on the show”, while group two needed more direction and argued a bit. In this study the television was used as a teacher and an example, much like writing a math problem on the white board so that students can see how it is done. When children find interest in programs and their characters they are more likely to want to act like the people they see. The show “Barney and Friends” teaches children life skills. In the Article “How Does Barney Help Teach Children?” they author writes “Barney and friends teach many preschool and kindergarten lessons. He teaches on love, family and manners with song which is a great start to a child’s education” (Devries 1). He explains the lesson that can be taught by watching this show. I still to this day remember all the songs that taught me to clean, be nice, and have manners and I have even used these song to teach my son the same

    Children not only learn content but also make cognitive gains by watching educational television. In the article “A Systematic Review for the Effects of Television Viewing by Infants and Preschoolers” the Author says “Friedrich-cofer found no difference in imaginative play between children who watch neutral shows (un-educational shows) and children who watch educational shows. Three studies did find that viewing significantly increased imaginative play” (Thakkar 2028). Watching shows such as “Mister Rodgers” and “Sesame Street” provide a lot of imagination. These kinds of programs often create “fairy-tale lands” that help increase imagination within children. For example, I have a sister who is ten years younger than me, from the ages of four to six she would constantly play with her dolls in what she called “dragon tails land”, the land created in “Dragon tales” (TV show on PBS), she would not have come up with this imaginary land had it not for the program she watched.

    In a study conducted by Huston-stein researchers watched to see children’s levels of imaginative play. Children who watched low-action/low-violence programs showed more imaginative play, while a high decrease was seen in children with the high-action/high-violence group. Those who saw no television showed a modest increase in imagination, and those in the high-action/high-violence group were stable. Parents should not be afraid of their children having decrease cognitive skills if they allow their children to watch educational programs that are directed towards them. As long as the parent knows that they should not watch the television all day and not being watching shows with high-action/high-violence then the children can take in ideas to explore their imagination. Television can increase Cultural and racial awareness. For instance, I grew up in a small town made up mostly Caucasians. My peers and I did not go to school with many other children from different cultural and racial back-grounds. Before elementary school we were taught about different cultures and races from television. Growing up in this town it was a never a necessity for our parents to explain to us that there were different cultures and ethicizes in this world so we would never be taught about it until we started school. The television was what showed us and taught us about different cultures. Today there are many more programs that are based on different cultures to teach children early on about them. In fact there is evidence that “educational television shows that emphasize diversity can change children’s racial attitudes” and can open them up to exploring other races and cultures (Thakkar 2028). Shows such as “Dora” and “Diego” teach children about the Spanish heritage and culture. These programs help Children understand that all people come from different back-grounds and help non-Hispanic children she the difference in their families and want to explore different things.

    In a study, white preschoolers watched “Sesame Street” episodes with either, white and nonwhite children playing together in a familiar setting or only nonwhite children playing in an ethnic setting. The control group watched the same show with episode that had only white children. After watching these episodes in many sitting the children were asked to pick out photos of children then would like to play with. 70% of the children who watched the non-white episodes chose non-white children, while 33% of the control group did. When a child watches and she different cultures and races they become more open to exploring these differences in the world. The United States is so diverse that it is extremely important to open your child up to this information. In the article “Using Television to improve learning opportunies” the Author says “…different cultural and community context are beginning to take in to account when accepting transitioning children from home to school” (Robinson 8). Television can prepare children for the understanding of different cultures that may be in the school that they are accepted to.

    Some parents fear their child will not understand what is reality and what is not. Researchers have found that young children start to understand television from an early age. As they mature they learn to see the difference between their own world, what is shown on television and whether it is true to life. In a three-year British study of five year olds in a large urban school, children could talk about what was real in television programs, and some showed understanding of television’s basic technical processes. These studies illustrate the extent to which children (from infants to preschoolers) gradually develop their televisual literacy. Again with the help of their parents and the control from their parents children will understand and gain the knowledge of what is real.

    Also it is important to point out that not all television is great for children and it is not good to always be watching TV. Programs that are geared towards adult audiences will not benefit a child. These types of programs can show bad behavior and teach children the wrong ways of acting. Also, always sitting in front of television is bad for children. Children need hands on experiences to grow and develop. . For example, my son is two and he has gain an enormous amount of knowledge from shows like “Team Umizoomi” and “bubble guppies” (shows on Nick Jr.). In my house the television is always on when we are home and always on “Nick Jr”. My son can now count from zero to twenty-five on his own and out of order. I always make sure that if it is nice out we play outside and when it is cold or rainy we go to the library or stay at home and play so he is not focus on just television. These educational programs have taught my son many educational skills, of course with help from his father and me.

    In conclusion television can be greatly beneficial for children. Television can increase cultural awareness, improve imaginative play and enhance self-control, sharing, and cooperation if parents take on the right responsibilities of controlling the television in their homes. Television will always be a part of our culture, knowing how to use it and how to let children use it will be beneficial to the world and affect children positively.

    Works Cited
    Anderson, Daniel R., Heather L. Kirkorian, and Ellen A. Wartella. “Media and Young Children’s Learning.” The Future of Children 18.1 (2008). Devries, Dale. “How does Barney Help Teach Children?” eHow education (1999). Diehl David C., Toelle Stephanie C. “Making Good Decisions: Television, Learning, and the Cognitive Development of Young Children.” e Family Youth and Community Sciences Department (2008): 1. Dr.
    Kaoruko Kondo , Steemers Jeanette. “Can Television be Good for Children?” The Communication and Media Research Institute: 3,4,5,6. Gorn Gerald J.,Goldberg Marvin E., Kanungo Rabindra N. “the Role of Educational Television in Changing the Intergroup Attitudes of Children.” 47.1 (1979). Jensen Elizabeth. “Does Television Rot Children’s Brains?” The New York Times (2006). Palmer, Edward. “Television for Learning: Our Foremost Tool in the 21st Century.” United Nations Educational, Scientific, and cultural organization (2001). Robinson, s. “Using Television to Improve Learning Opportunites.” Council for Educational Research (2010): 8. Ryall, Nick. “The importance of exposing your children to technology.” 2011.Web. . Thakkar R. Rupin, Garrison M. Michelle, Christakis A. Dimitri. “A Systematic Review for the Effects of Television Viewing by Infants and Preschoolers.” 118.5 (2006): 2026.

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