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Getting Children Away from Television

- Anuradha

When John Logie Baird invented the television in 1925, I'm sure he wouldn't have realized the profound effect his invention would have on all aspects of human life! 

Most people in now spend four hours every day staring at a piece of furniture! The numerous channels and the variety of soaps have people glued to their sets till late into the night. With adults spending so much time front of the television, little wonder that kids too spend more time in front of the idiot box than outdoors. 

With families becoming more and more nuclear, most mothers start off by using the television as a 'babysitter'. Children as young as a year old are left in front of the TV to keep them out of trouble while the mother cooks or bathes. The child soon plonks herself in front of the TV whenever it is switched on and even needs the TV to be on while eating. True, mothers can go about their work with the assurance that their child will not get into trouble, but most parents would rethink their strategy if they are aware of the side effects of over exposure to the television.

Children watch on an average around 28 hours of television per week. This includes violence and viewing not suitable for their age. By the age of eight, aggression becomes so ingrained in a child that it predicts adult aggression. Moreover it has been found that children who spend a lot of time in front of the television do poorly in school and have poor eating habits. TV watching also reduces the time children spend engaging verbally and socially with others and consequently effects their intellectual and speech development.

Dr. Jerome Singer, a professor of psychology at Yale University, suggests that parents view the TV as a stranger in their house. This stranger, he says, teaches kids to punch and kick their way through conflict resolution. This stranger tries to sell children all kinds of products, some of which we may not approve. Just as we would not allow a real uninvited stranger in our house, we need to think twice about what strangers on the television are saying and doing to our children. 

With television being such an integral part of our daily lives, its almost impossible to completely banish it from our child's life. However as parents we could: 

  • Choose the programs our children will watch, and stick to the schedule
  • Encourage children to cultivate the reading habit.
  • Help her develop other hobbies such as building models, drawing. 
  • Get her interested in sports
  • Finally, set a good example by limiting your own television viewing. 

Television eats up the time you are not working or sleeping - ten years for the average person. All those things you want to be: a lover, a parent, a scholar, a wild teenager or a pillar of the community - when are you going to do all that? So stop letting your children live in a make-believe world. Help them get a life - a real one!

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