Television has become an integral part of our life at home today. It has become so ubiquitous across the globe that it is hard to imagine life without it. Nowadays, most of us have at least two to three television sets at home. The advent of television era has definitely changed the world and how we view it. While television has opened our door to the outside world, it comes with both necessary and unnecessary channels. Just with the point and the click of a button, the viewing options are endless. There are literarily hundreds of channels to choose from. Cartoons, cooking shows, news and other entertainment shows fill up the airwaves. With so many channels available to turn to, choosing the appropriate channels especially for children is increasingly becoming a concern. Some studies have indicated that television is bad for children since it often promotes violence and aggression, be it through cartoons or movies.
We all know that children are great imitators. They love imaginary play and modeling their favorite characters they see on TV. This act alone reinforces the idea that children can learn through imitation and repeated exposure. Even violence can be learned in this manner. When they watch negative behavior, they keep on mimicking that negativity and learn it because they don’t have the capacity to analyze what they see on the screen.
However, watching television is not always deemed bad for children. It also provides numerous educational programs that can help children enhance their creativity and develop their imagination power. It helps them understand more about the outside world as it exposes them to different cultures. Hence, watching television under proper parental control can open a new horizon of wisdom for children. As a result, they can perform well in their studies as well as in co-curricular activities.
However, with many parents going to offices today, most of the children who come home from school are left either alone or with a babysitter who may not care what kind of channels they are watching. In the absence of proper supervision, they may often end up watching shows involving violence, sexual acts or bad languages. The repeated exposure to violence on the screen can desensitize children’s response to the real violence when they grow up.
Children who constantly view violence on TV no longer consider it bad and can readily accept it as a common behavior. However, some people argue that children actually learn morals and life lessons from some violence on television. In shows such as Power Rangers, the good guys always win and the bad guys are always punished. This idea helps children realize that bad acts are punishable. They will more often identify themselves with the heroes in the story, and they themselves will aspire to be one of the good guys. But such violent shows can also send out a wrong message for children. They might learn that the use of violence is the best way to solve problems. This can cause them to act aggressively even if their intention is good.
Even those programs designed for children contain violence. For instance, the popular Tom and Jerry are notorious pranksters and perpetrators of violence. Children often laugh at violence shown in the cartoon movies such as the Tom and Jerry cutting off their tails and smashing one another beyond recognition. But in reality, they are laughing at a character indulging in violent acts against another. This can cause children to believe that pain or hurting someone can be humorous. They will not realize how much harm can violence and aggression cause in reality.
As parents, it is very important to supervise what our children are viewing on television every day. Studies have shown that children below the age of five need help to process what they are viewing because they can’t make connection between the imaginary and reality. If we are genuinely concerned about our children’s future, we can sit down with them when they watch TV and help them understand the difference between the animation and reality. We can also browse for reviews of various cartoon animations and other shows that appear on TV so that we can make an informed decision on what channels should be allowed for our children to view. Ultimately, it is the responsibility of parents and caregivers to make sure that children access only educational and nonviolent shows on television.