Mar 13, 2009

Read a book or watch television?

TV graph

I heard recently that a sister wanted to read more, and my encouragement to her was “wonderful, keep reading and stop watching TV”


The following summary is from Dr Benjamin Spock on television.

Judge for yourself whether TV is good or not:


Television's Impact on Your Child

Consider these statistics: Young people spend more time (an average of 23 hours a week) watching television than in any other activity except sleeping. The average child today will have watched an estimated 7 to 10 years of television by the time they are 70 years old.

A Distorted Sense of Reality
We are leaving our children in the care of an electronic baby-sitter for 23 hours of every week.

This "Sitter" Tells our Children:

  • That violence is an acceptable way to solve problems.
  • That sex is especially exciting when it occurs without love and, besides, there are no real negative consequences anyway.
  • And that owning the latest products is a measure of success and happiness.

There seems to be very little similarity between the world the electronic baby-sitter is selling to our children and the world we would like to see.

Little Educational Value

Of all the media, television has the most pervasive influence on children. There is no question that some programs, usually on the public broadcasting stations, provide wonderful learning experiences for children.

These are the programs that educate in a fun way, that teach values of caring and kindness, and that appeal to the child's higher instincts.

Unfortunately, these shows are in the minority. Most children's television is meant to sell products and engage the child's attention through fast-paced, often violent buffoonery.

TV Promotes Passivity and a Lack of Creativity

Television tends to promote passivity and a lack of creativity. Watching TV requires zero mental activity on the viewer's part.

You simply sit and let the images flow by.
This is very different from reading, which forces you to use your imagination. The viewer becomes a passive receptacle for whatever images the TV chooses to display. Some believe that this sort of non-participatory viewing impairs children's ability to learn to read and fosters a short attention span.

Television's Effect on Your Child's Behavior

According to what is known as social learning theory, one of the most effective ways to teach children certain behaviors is through observation and imitation -- a process known as modeling. This is commonly seen as children model themselves after their parents.

Unfortunately, many children spend a great deal of time "observing" television, and television generally depicts behaviors that we, as parents, would not like our children to imitate.

As an example, studies have shown that certain susceptible children are more likely to behave aggressively if they spend time viewing violence on television.

This discredits an earlier theory about television (known as the catharsis theory), which suggested that watching violence on TV could decrease a child's tendency toward behaving aggressively in real life. We now know that this is clearly not true.

Nutrition and Exercise

Children who spend time watching TV instead of running, jumping and playing are much more likely to be overweight. Not only are they saturated with commercials generally promoting unhealthy, sugary and fatty foods, but they also tend to snack more while watching TV than they would otherwise.

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