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What Do Parents Need To Know About Children's Television Viewing?



Credits



Source

U.S. Department Of Education

Contents

How Can Excessive Television Viewing Affect Children's Learning And School Performance?

TV Affects Social And Emotional Behavior

TV Affects Creativity And Language Skills

TV Affects School Achievement

How Can Parents Guide Their Children's Television Viewing?

Where Can Parents And Teachers Find Out More About Television Viewing And Children?

Sources


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Children in the United States watch an average of 3 to 5 hours of television every day. Parents and teachers are concerned about the possible effects of excessive television viewing on children.

There is reason for such concern. Studies show that extensive television viewing may be associated with violent or overly aggressive behavior, poor academic performance, precocious sexuality, obesity, and the use of drugs or alcohol.

How Can Excessive Television Viewing Affect Children's Learning And School Performance?

Research on the effects of television viewing on children reveals a number of possible problems.

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TV Affects Social And Emotional Behavior

Studies on television viewing reveal that the amount of violence on television is increasing. Viewing violent programs can make children afraid, worried, or suspicious and may increase tendencies toward aggressive behavior. Parents should keep in mind that television often portrays sexual behavior and the use of alcohol, cigarettes, or drugs in inviting terms.

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TV Affects Creativity And Language Skills

Children who spend a great deal of time watching television have less time for playing, reading, doing homework, and talking with other children and adults. Language skills are best fostered through reading and active two-way participation in conversations and play activities. Excessive TV watching can interfere with growth in these areas.

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TV Affects School Achievement

Research has found that the amount of time a child spends on homework is significantly related to how well he or she does in school. Since television viewing can interfere with the completion of homework assignments and reduce the amount of sleep a child gets, excessive viewing could affect your child's grades and alertness in school.

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How Can Parents Guide Their Children's Television Viewing?

Television viewing can have positive effects, if parents and teachers:

  • Set Limits. Know how many hours of television your children watch. Limit your children's viewing to 1 to 2 hours a day. Watching television is often more habit than choice. Establish good viewing habits for your children. Suggest and participate with your children in alternative activities such as reading, sports, conversation, games, and hobbies. Because children model their behavior after their parents, consider your own viewing habits and set a good example. Eliminate some television viewing by setting a few basic rules, such as no television during meals or before completing household tasks or homework.

  • Plan. Encourage your children to plan their viewing by using a TV Guide or newspaper listing rather than flipping channels. Help the children decide which show to see and encourage them to watch a variety of programs appropriate for their level of understanding. The television should be turned on only for specific programs; it should be turned off when they are over.

  • Participate. Know what your children watch on television. Watch with them and talk about the programs afterward. Explain situations that are confusing. Ask why any violent scenes occurred and how painful they were. Ask your children for ideas about ways the conflict could have been resolved without violence.

  • Monitor. Encourage children to watch programs about characters who cooperate and care for each other. Such programs can influence children in positive ways by modeling desirable behavior and setting good examples.

  • Analyze Commercials. Children need your help to critically evaluate the validity of the many products advertised on television. Teach children to analyze commercials and recognize exaggerated claims. Point out that the makers of the products pay for advertising.

  • Express Your Views. Call your local television station when you are offended or pleased by something on television. Stations, networks, and sponsors are all concerned about the effects of television viewing on children and are responsive to parents' concerns.

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Where Can Parents And Teachers Find Out More About Television Viewing And Children?

Action for Children's Television (ACT)
20 University Road
Cambridge, MA 02138
(617) 876-6620

American Academy of Pediatrics
141 Northwest Point Boulevard
P.O. Box 927
Elk Grove Village, IL 60007
(312) 228-5005

Center for Early Education and Development (CEED)
University of Minnesota
51 East River Road
Minneapolis, MN 55455
(612) 624-3567

ERIC Clearinghouse on Elementary and Early Childhood Education
University of Illinois
College of Education
805 West Pennsylvania Avenue
Urbana, IL 61801-4897
(217) 333-1386

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Sources

Most of the following references--those identified with an ED or EJ number--have been abstracted and are in the ERIC database. The journal articles should be available at most research libraries. For a list of ERIC collections in your area, contact ACCESS ERIC at 1 (800) LET-ERIC.

Cecil, N. L. (1988). "Help Children Become More Critical TV Watchers." PTA TODAY, 13 (April), 12-14. EJ 372 807.

Corporation for Public Broadcasting (1988). TV Tips For Parents: Using Television To Help Your Child Learn. Washington, DC. ED 299 948.

"Guidelines for Family Television Viewing" (1990). ERIC Clearinghouse on Elementary and Early Childhood Education, Urbana, IL. ED 320 662.

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Credits

Written by Mima Spencer, ERIC Clearinghouse on Elementary and Early Childhood Education.November 1993

This publication was prepared by ACCESS ERIC with funding from the Office of Educational Research and Improvement, U.S. Department of Education, under Contract No. RI890120. The opinions expressed in this report do not necessarily reflect the positions or policies of the Department of Education.

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