The discovery of television dates back to the groundbreaking advancement in the field of science and technology in the 19th century.
Through audiovisual digital signals, the television brings together on the same screen, information of diverse nature from all over the globe.
A promising source for enriching us with knowledge and awareness about every ongoing event or incident across the world, the television may also have its own set of disadvantages. With the inclusion of the TV in our drawing rooms, we have devoted a considerable portion of our recreational activities and family time towards watching TV. This has not only affected our social lives but also interfered with the learning and development of basic skills among children in particular.
The youth has been intrigued the most by the advent of modern technology, television being a scientific creation of the kind. Toddlers and infants have derived immense pleasure in listening to nursery rhymes and songs and watching animated and cartoon videos on the television. Children when slightly older are also drawn towards watching entertainment series featuring fictitious characters such as superheroes, the forbearer of supernatural powers of all means. Current scientific research, however, has implied that watching TV for more than 2 hours a day for any child could interfere with their perception of reality or the ability to distinguish between the world of fantasy and the real life. Trying to enact stunts performed by fictional characters in a broadcast or witnessing a criminal activity being performed by a superhero may have a negative impact on a child’s brain. At a very premature stage of development, children have a tendency to accept everything they watch on TV to be real and may not gauge the extent to which this knowledge could be helpful to their understanding.
The basis of learning and memory, development of cognitive skills, reading and speech is dependent on the development of the human brain up to 3 years of age. Thus, for all children aged below two, watching television could not only lead to inattention but could also interfere with the development of communication skills, social interaction, and short term memory.
Besides, prolonged periods of being glued to the television could also affect their eyes considerably at a very tender age. Though these effects are not compulsorily associated with a particular age group, since the human brain achieves a certain stage of development by the age of 3 years, related effects would probably not be as detrimental to social development for children aged above 3 years.
For children aged above 4 years and so on, excessive watching of television would distinctly be associated with sitting on the couch for long hours without any physical activity, munching on snacks and could be attributed to uncontrollable weight gain. The instance of obesity among children is largely responsible for the consumption of excess junk food. The advertising of always not so healthy food products only for commercialization and marketing purposes, however, tempts the youth to the point that they misinterpret it as a part of a healthy routine and diet. Here, the responsibility of the parents come to play, to speak to their children and seek their opinion on what they watch on TV to make them understand the thin line separating between the real and the fictitious world. Disinterest in sports, board games, interacting and communicating with people at this age could also be attributed to various problems associated with social behavior.
Often, broadcasted content in the TV could be scary or intimidating for children to bear. Also, witnessing too much of violence could be emotionally demanding for children to come to terms with. It has been proven on the basis of psychological studies that children who are inclined towards watching more violence in television generally tend to be more prone towards developing an aggressive or timid behavior. Commercial advertisements of alcohol and cigarettes and their use in movies or songs also gives an impression of the habit being a very normal and usual aspect of everyday lives. However, what is not broadcasted are the health hazards or clinical implications of their consumption, which has to be explained to the children at a very appropriate time, before they are too vulnerable to try it. Also, in an urge to try new things, learned by supposedly viewing adult content on the television, could be very damaging to the personality development of children. These matters thereby, require a certain amount of communication and discussion between parents for them to be aware of what they see on TV may not always have to be taken for granted to be true to words.
Knowing the benefits of television being a large reservoir of information brought together from all corners of the world in the same frame, preventing children from watching TV may not be good either. The success in handling children from being addicted to television, however, requires restrictions to be imposed on the number of hours that they should be allowed to watch TV and the content they watch. The parents should take a personal initiative to keep a track of what their kids watch and when appropriate interact with them regarding their opinions on certain issues, to explain to them better the difference between what is real and artificially presented. Also, to set perfect examples, the parents should ideally restrict their own habits of watching television for a limited period of time. They should also include compulsorily alternative activities such as sports, board games, going out and spending some quality time with a family so that watching TV is not the only exciting recreation for the children. This would in a way be integral to the social development of a child as an individual.