By Mutryce A Williams
Navigating "Island" Parenting is a submission of insights, quotes, tips and parenting advice that I have gathered over the years as a source of inspiration and as tools to deal with the daily challenges of parenting. This week’s issue: Children and Television. The hope is that this submission will cause you to reflect on your parenting skills and also make the journey of parenting a bit easier or brighter.
Is the television a necessity? Is television viewing a right or a privilege? Do you have a policy on television? Do you think one is necessary? Do you think that television viewing especially in young children is harmless? What is your child’s relationship with the television? Is the television an integral part of your family life? Does your child eat or do homework while watching the television? Have you given any thought to how television viewing has or is impacting your child’s development? Is the television an effective parenting tool? Do you consider the television a babysitter or helper?
Do you think that the time that your child spends watching television could be better utilized? What are the alternatives to television watching? Do you monitor your child’s television watching? Do you have an idea of how many hours of television your child watches per day? Does your child spend more hours per day outside of school actively engaged in other activities? Do the hours spent on these activities exceed the hours spent watching television? Have you given any thought lately to the issue of your child and the television? How will your child spend his or her summer break? Will he or she be glued to the television all day, outside, attending vacation bible school or at summer camp?
Television and Children
Source: Child Development Institute
“Why and to what extent should parents control their children’s TV watching? There is certainly nothing inherently wrong with TV. The problem is how much television a child watches and what effect it has on his life. Research has shown that as the amount of time spent watching TV goes up, the amount of time devoted not only to homework and study but other important aspects of life such as social development and physical activities decreases.
Television is bound to have a tremendous impact on a child, both in terms of how many hours a week he watches TV and of what he sees. When a parent is concerned about the effects of television, he should consider a number of things: what TV offers the child in terms of information and knowledge, how many hours a week a youngster his age should watch television, the impact of violence and sex, and the influence of commercials.
What about the family as a whole? Is the TV set a central piece of furniture in your home! Is it flicked on the moment someone enters the empty house? Is it on during the daytime? Is it part of the background noise of your family life? Do you demonstrate by your own viewing that television should be watched selectively?
Since television is clearly here to stay, it is important that parents manage their children’s TV viewing so that it can be a plus rather than a minus in the family situation.”
Your Child’s Brain on TV
Source: June 2014 Issue of Parents Magazine
“For the first time, scientists have documented that watching TV can trigger physical changes in a child’s brain. Japanese researchers found that kids with the most TV time had a buildup of extra gray matter in the area of the brain linked to intellect. But this overgrowth didn’t translate to better abilities; these children scored lower on verbal tests. The American Academy of Pediatrics discourages TV watching before age 2, when brain development is most rapid, and advises limiting it to no more than two hours a day after that.”
The Good and Bad Effects of TV on Children
Source - Raise Smart Kid-Chacha Tumbokon
“It is hard to avoid television if you are a kid. People in the house are usually tuned in to TV -- siblings as well as parents. In some homes, the television is perpetually "on" even without anyone watching. It is common for parents and caregivers to use TV as a substitute babysitter. Also, many parents buy videos that they think can make their kids smart. But how does watching TV really affect children?
The bad news is, the majority of experts think that a TV/video-driven culture has bad effects on kids -- and may prevent kids from being smart. They cite the following:
• TV provides no educational benefits for a child under age 2. Worse, it steals time for activities that actually develop her brain, like interacting with other people and playing. A child learns a lot more efficiently from real interaction - with people and things, rather than things she sees on a video screen.
• TV viewing takes away the time that your child needs to develop important skills like language, creativity, motor, and social skills. These skills are developed in the kids’ first two years (a critical time for brain development) through play, exploration, and conversation. Your kid’s language skills, for example, do not improve by passively listening to the TV. It is developed by interacting with people, when talking and listening is used in the context of real life.
• TV viewing numbs your kid's mind as it prevents your child from exercising initiative, being intellectually challenged, thinking analytically, and using his imagination.
• TV viewing takes away time from reading and improving reading skills through practice (Comstock, 1991). Kids watching cartoons and entertainment television during pre-school years have poorer pre-reading skills at age 5 (Macbeth, 1996). Also, kids who watch entertainment TV are also less likely to read books and other print media (Wright & Huston, 1995).
• According to speech and language expert Dr Sally Ward, 20 years of research show that kids who are bombarded by background TV noise in their homes have trouble paying attention to voices when there is also background noise.
• Kids who watch a lot of TV have trouble paying attention to teachers because they are accustomed to the fast-paced visual stimulation on TV. Kids who watch TV more than they talk to their family have a difficult time adjusting from being visual learners to aural learners (learning by listening). They also have shorter attention spans.
• School kids who watch too much TV also tend to work less on their homework. When doing homework with TV on the background, kids tend to retain less skill and information. When they lose sleep because of TV, they become less alert during the day, and this results in poor school performance.
• A long-term study conducted by the Millennium Cohort Study and published in 2013 found that children who watched more than 3 hours of television, videos, or DVDs a day had a higher chance of conduct problems, emotional symptoms and relationship problems by age 7 than children who did not. Notably, they did not find the same problem with children who played video games for the same amount of time.”
“TV. If kids are entertained by two letters, imagine the fun they'll have with twenty-six. Open your child's imagination. Open a book.” Author Unknown
“The smallest bookstore still contains more ideas of worth than have been presented in the entire history of television.” Andrew Ross
“I find television very educating. Every time somebody turns on the set, I go into the other room and read a book.” Groucho Marx
“All television is educational television. The question is: what is it teaching?” Nicholas Johnson
“I wish there was a knob on the TV so you could turn up the intelligence. They got one marked "brightness" but it don't work, does it?” Leo Anthony Gallagher
“Television has changed a child from an irresistible force to an immovable object.” Unknown
“We cannot blame the schools alone for the dismal decline in SAT verbal scores. When our kids come home from school do they pick up a book or do they sit glued to the tube, watching music videos? Parents, don't make the mistake of thinking your kid only learns between 9:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m.” George Bush
“If you came and you found a strange man... teaching your kids to punch each other, or trying to sell them all kinds of products, you'd kick him right out of the house, but here you are; you come in and the TV is on, and you don't think twice about it.” Jerome Singer
Mutryce A. Williams, a native of St Kitts and Nevis is the mother of 4-year-old Daniel and 3-year-old Nicholas. She not only values the many facets of West Indian parenting but also thinks that there is vast room for improvement. A former educator and a child/youth advocate, Mutryce firmly believes that children should not only be seen but heard.. She may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org