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Challenge: Kids and Technology

Is TV Bad for Children?

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While there are a number of school and even government-funded initiatives to get American children to stop being couch potatoes and exercise and participate in sports more, the fact that too many American youngsters continue to be fascinated by television and its offshoots, video-games, contribute to the childhood obesity phenomenon that may well be affecting the future health of young Americans. Moreover, from many a children's psychologist's point of view, television also reduces, and sometimes even eliminates positive family interaction between parent and child.

What is frequently a concern for parents, teachers and psychologists is not just a TV in the den or living room, but in a child's bedroom: " Television tends to push our other important things - like reading before bedtime...It also may push out homework: An 2005 American study found that children had lower school achievement when they had TVs in their rooms. Kids may also resort more to TV when they're lonely or bored, rather than doing something more active or creative" (Bennett, 2006, p. 163).

In other words, television all too often becomes an excuse for not doing more creative work and homework and a time-waster.

Many critics will argue that TV offers a lot of educiational programs aimed at children but those who are in favor of reducing TV time for them claim this: " Unfortunately, most children would rather watch Power Rangers and the six hours of other shows that follow on the Cartoon Network. With Television becoming constantly more popular, children are also becoming lazier than in the past. Instead of adventuring outdoors with their friends... hours are spent glued to the T.V. in an overwhelming state of lethargy" (Baker, 2011, para.3).

Television, because of time constraints, tends to resolve crises in a few minutes. This not only tends to make children feel that all their problems can be quickly and happily resolved, but the way some children's programming and the advertising commercials associated with them are telling "stories" within a minute or so. There are many child psychologists who believe that watching television more than is reasonable actually affects the attention span of some children. Speaking of commercials, they often make children want and desire something that adults know may not be healthy (sugar-loaded cereals, or gifts with high-calorie McDonald's meals).

Regardless of the negative effects that many claim television has on children, there is no way a state or federal government can interfere with programming (unless it is lewd or immoral). If the negative effects of television are to be reversed, it is the parent's task to

(1) limit television viewing,

(2) monitor the programs being watched,

(3) discourage television in children's bedrooms and

(4) encourage physical activity and creative thinking and more interaction with parents, siblings and other family members to encourage person-to-person conversation.

Watching television should be a part-time, not full-time area of interest for children.


  • Baker, L. (2011): " The negative effects of television on children" retrieved, Feb. 13, 2011
  • Bennett, H. (2006): " 9 to 11 years: A TV in the bedroom?"
  • Prescott Papers - Excuses for not doing homework
  • Toronto: Today's Parent June 2006. Vol. 23, Iss. 6; pg. 163
  • Photo courtesy of Speech Buddies

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