The Negative Effects of Television on Children

Are kids spending too much time watching TV or playing computer games?  How much time do kids spend in front of the screen?  Children that are at home from school spend an average of five hours per day in front of the TV screen.  That does not include the time spent by the computer screen playing games or working on homework.

Is there any proof that time spent in front of a screen has a negative affect on them?  Yes, and it is very significant.  Viewing TV for long periods of time during the day and playing video games have been linked to obesity, attentions deficit problems, aggressive behavior, and poor performance in school.  As much as kids enjoy the antics of today’s cartoons and other television characters, recent research suggests that too much TV time can bring stress into their lives.  Kids who spend more time watching television or other screen-based forms of entertainment are more likely to show signs of psychological distress.  Also, these habits in children and adolescents can lead to poor fitness and raised cholesterol level in adulthood.  

The amount of violence that is viewed on TV and video games is excessive.  Research shows violence in media increases anxiety, fear, aggressive behavior, poor sleep, and academic and attention problems among kids.  Plus, kids who are entertained by violence can get desensitized and not take a stand against bullying therefore making our schools and communities more dangerous.

Online and TV time does not encourage imagination or creative problem solving, skills that are the foundation of learning.  The less you let TV entertain your children, the more they will learn to entertain themselves and grow up to be creative, free-thinking adults.  Also spending too much time in front of the screen does nothing to enhance their social skills.  Kids spend too much time by the screen and less time playing outside or on a playground with kids their age.  Good social skills are very important for a child in school or for every day activities.

Some parents do not consider TV and computers as a good education learning tool for children less than two years of age.  Children at that age should be exploring, playing with educational toys and just being themselves.  If a child is in the room while others are viewing TV, a time limit needs to be in place if the child is going to watch TV.  A good alternative is to keep the child occupied with toys or books and away from the TV.

A child two years or younger should view the TV for two hours or less per day.  For older children a parent should use good judgment on how much time should be spent in front of the screen.  One good reason for proper judgment is there will be days when your child or teen will want to watch a two-hour DVD and still spend some time on the Internet.   At times that may be acceptable but a parent should keep this from turning into a daily routine.

In today’s world, using the Internet has become a way of life.  We need to pay attention to our own screen time.  Whether it is a handheld computers, cell phones, TVs, laptops, or DVD players in minivans, it is hard to keep ourselves away from screens nowadays. Unfortunately, often parents serve as bad examples. We as parents need to take a look at our own role. Are we constantly looking at screens, giving our children handheld video games to keep them quiet?  The more you limit your own screen time, the less of a main concern your children’s screen time becomes for them.

On the other hand, having toddlers and kids spend time in front of a TV or computer screen may not be bad at all, using proper time limits.  Yes, experts say its not healthy for kids to watch TV, but there are TV programs that actually gets the kids involve in the activities.  Using the computer and the TV as a teaching tool, particularly for young children may help them with phonics, math, shapes, sizes and colors.  However, we as parents need to set realistic time limits that work.  Limit screen time to 1 to 2 hours per day.  That means all screens, TVs, handheld devices, video games.  They all keep kids from going outdoors, exercising and enjoying nature, which are natural stress relievers.