Should Parents Raise their Children without Television – No

We live in a technological, consumer-led and demanding age. When you put all of these factors together it creates an environment where we, our children included, require more and more visual and intellectual stimulus. We service that need with the Internet, books, newspapers, social interaction and, equally importantly, television. As a result, to bring children up without television would be to deprive them of one of these key stimuli in their lives.

Television has become an integral part of everyday life. No longer is it just the case that there is a TV in every living room, but usually in every room in the house, so having television, and watching it, is what happens in “normal” life, and no-one should want to deprive their children of “normality”.

Obviously, the concern here is the effect that too much television will have on children’s social skills, educational capabilities and temperament if they are addicted to it or brainwashed by it. This I agree with. We need to make sure that, as with most things, television is allowed in moderation and does not become the focus of their lives. Equally, television is not merely an evil tool to mess with our kid’s minds, it’s the portal to a whole world of knowledge and, importantly, entertainment and we need to make sure that children are raised with a good balance of discipline, education and fun. These are all equally important and television is the most readily available medium for easy, relaxed entertainment and fun, and this element of appreciating entertainment is a key element in children’s development.

Television, as part of every day life, is a great source for discussion, and all children should be taught to interact, discuss and comment. One of the main arguments about television is that it is an individual pastime and can create alienation if a child watches it on their own in his/her own room. This is true, so television watching should become a family thing, mainly done in the main room of the house. With this lonesome element removed, television becomes a superb tool for questioning or forming opinions and for creating topics to discuss. Even if the conversation is to be about a sporting event, reality TV show or a soap opera, the phrase “did you see” echoing around a school yard can only be a good thing in terms of stimulating debate and discussion.

A criticism of television is that it dulls the senses, just becoming a series of images for the brain to digest and then dismiss. I think the opposite. I believe that television is a relaxing, passive way to absorb information and images. We are, as I’ve said, a strongly demanding society, so what better way to feed our requirements for images, information and facts than to watch it, in glorious technicolor, in the safety and relaxation of our own houses. We may not have a full opportunity to travel the world, or explore the oceans, so what better way to see it, experience it and enjoy it than through television. Children have a broad range of programmes that they can learn from, not just about curriculum education, but about life, from television, so why deprive them of it?

Various programming serves different functions in this area.

Documentaries, news shows and current affairs shows give children the opportunity to see other cultures, experiences and points of view that they would not otherwise see. Television can broaden their horizons on these topics and broaden their opinions on other religions and cultures. Books and the Internet can also do this but television serves it up with movement, sound and a passion that gives it the edge.

Children’s entertainment and cartoons allow children to use television as an equally important tool one that entertains them and lets them have fun. These shows may not challenge them intellectually or teach them anything about the world, but they allow kids to escape, imagine and to have unending fun. In other words, these shows help kids to be kids. This type of entertainment and relaxation would be very hard to find elsewhere, making television very important in this respect.

Reality shows and soap operas are an opportunity to learn about “real life” issues, but in a TV environment. I know that this is a little tenuous, and I do not recommend that these shows be used as educational programming, but they do give children an opportunity to see shows dealing with issues that affect them and that are relevant to them. As such, these are an important part of the television experience, and are important to allow children to understand and develop.

Television can be a distraction, an addiction and lead to separation and to a loss of social skills but, used correctly, it can be used to stimulate and educate children and to give them an accessible medium with which to have fun, so I believe that every child should be allowed access to television if it is available.