The effect of television on our young ones is undeniable. Most parents recognize television as a major influence on their children’s behavior and lifestyle choices, yet some are still uncertain about the negative effects of television on children and teens. A better understanding of the negative effects of television on our youth is needed for all parents, educators, and other concerned adults to encourage healthy media choices.
Studies have shown that television has a powerful influence on the behaviors of young people. Negative behaviors reinforced on television or in movies increase the risk that adolescents will try to emulate these behaviors. For example, tobacco use, alcohol abuse, and sexual activities have been found to be more likely in adolescents exposed to television programs that glorify these activities. In fact, youth violence is a significant risk factor linked to what adolescents watch on television.
In addition to influencing our children’s behavior, television can also lead to physical and psychological health problems. Prolonged television viewing often leads to a decrease in physical activity, which in turn can lead to health problems such as obesity. The presence of television in a shared family setting can also lead to disagreements and conflicts, which can affect our children’s self-concept and relationships with others.
Apart from influencing young people’s behaviors and health, television also reduces the amount of family time. Families who spend time together discussing their day, enjoying mealtime, or just playing together are healthier and stronger. On the contrary, families who watch television together tend to be less engaged in conversations, play fewer family games, and eat less nutritiously.
Moreover, television can be passing unhealthy messages about race, gender, violence, and beauty that give people the wrong perspective about the world. For instance, Asians may be portrayed as smart students, while women may be shown as subservient homemakers. Such stereotypes can have a damaging effect on our youth, creating confusion about their identity and values.
Based on the evidence, it is clear that television can have negative effects on our young ones, both short-term and long-term. Regularly assessing and monitoring what your children watch is important to protect them from the negative influence of television. Setting healthy viewing limits, such as limiting children’s viewing time, avoiding late-night television, and creating family rules about what television programs are acceptable will help reduce the likelihood that they will be exposed to negative content.
By taking steps to limit television watching, parents can help create a positive media environment that will allow children and teens to develop responsibly. Furthermore, parents can provide positive role models to their children and encourage them to make healthier choices by talking about what they watch and by engaging them in actively involved conversations.
It is thus important for parents to be aware of their children’s television viewing habits and to work with teens and pre-teens to determine which television programs are appropriate for them. By making an effort to help children monitor and select appropriate television programs, parents can help ensure that television viewing is an enriching and positive experience for their children.