As we all know, there have been various debates among the chattering classes on the pleasures and perils of watching television (TV) – particularly considering the well-being of children. While most TV channels are not able to produce engaging and meaningful content, TV is also sometimes termed as an “idiot box.”
Children today spend less time playing outdoors than any previous generation, a fact that is having disastrous consequences on their health, achievement levels, and overall progress. To fight this Play Deficit, social entrepreneur Darell Hammond founded non-profit KaBOOM! 15 years ago in Washington, D.C. with a vision of creating a great place to play within walking distance of every child in America.
Earlier, the First Lady of the United States, Michelle Obama, joined Nickelodeon in celebrating the network’s annual Worldwide Day of Play by sharing a special message. She encouraged kids and families to turn off their televisions and computers and to get out and play.
While kids are being advised by different people on the harms of watching TV, let’s see what Uncle Anup has to say. Here he counts five plain perils that children of all ages must consider.
1. Watching TV spoils the eyesight at a young age; it may not be possible to correct the sight again. Kids’ eyes are very tender and regular watching of TV causes a strain on the eyes, leading to problems of eyesight, burning sensation in the eyes and watering of the eyes. That is why doctors advise parents to restrict the time spent by kids in front of the TV.
2. Elders watch news and serials on TV. Kids also watch this, especially in homes with single TV sets. News is generally tragic in nature and other shows televised are normally long-drawn and much predictable. Kids’ innocent minds are polluted by destructive events portrayed in the news, serials or movies.
3. Kids’ focus on studies is lost and they lag behind in studies. There are instances where kids do their homework while watching TV. This is tacitly encouraged by parents, as they want to watch the TV programs themselves. Also, the parents are happy that they need not give attention to their kids during this time. This results in kids not being fully prepared for the next day’s class, thus affecting their performance.
4. The most important play time, especially time for physical sports is curtailed. Sports particularly team games instill a sense of team work, adaptability, tolerance and camaraderie in kids, which they learn to display in their adult life. Without these, the personality of kids is stunted and this could lead to behavioral problems in later life.
5. Kids tend to emulate their favorite ‘heroes’ on the TV screen. They are not able to differentiate between illusion and reality and try to ape the stunts on screen. This can be dangerous for them.
So, these are some of the factors that parents should keep in mind and encourage their children to spend more time on field sports rather than in front of a TV.
Anup Y. Attavar is an expert on issues related to children and young adults. His recent book “World Famous Indian Scientists” is an inspiration and motivation for youth to achieve excellence in their lives and careers.
Parents, teachers, and experts are invited to contribute their opinion articles for the RMN Kids site.