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Television, a plus or minus for kids?

It was unheard of that a 12-year-old child would go near a gun, let alone pick it up with the preconception to kill someone and…

It was unheard of that a 12-year-old child would go near a gun, let alone pick it up with the preconception to kill someone and actually go ahead to do just that. Today, children have acquired all sorts of characteristics, mannerisms and lines of thought; most of which studies have traced to what they view on television and on the internet. Parents have begun to question the contents of television programs and cartoons supposedly meant for children.

Recent researches have revealed that as kids get older, too much screen time can interfere with activities such as being physically active, reading, doing homework, playing with friends and spending time with the family.

Also, there are movies with age restrictions set at 18 or 16 as the case maybe, but a few years down, animated versions of these same movies are produced with hardly any modifications from their original versions. Mrs. Oby Onuwaje cited an example. “Adam’s Family is a movie for people of 16 years and above. Not too long ago, I stumbled on my children watching a cartoon version of it on one of the networks. I was alarmed as I sat there watching it with them and realising that it was practically the same thing with the main movie. I had to stop them from watching it.

Another issue as stated by Mrs. Grace Adejo, is the fact that some of these movies which have age restrictions, have children younger than those ages being featured in them and sometimes, playing major roles. She asked, “why are there so many kid’s cartoons based on violence these days? I do not see anything whatsoever to recommend them. They are just full of hype, which in itself, is a danger to such young minds. The sad part for me is that it seems that violence is one of the main ingredients of such programmes.

“When my son was four years, I could insist on what cartoons he could and could not watch; primarily because I felt he was too young for them. Now that he is seven-years-old it is such a battle to keep insisting without being interrogated and asked to justify why he cannot watch a certain cartoon or programme when he can see children his age and younger as main characters in them. Gone are the days when you tell a child something and he agrees with you sheepishly. Now they are sharp and want a reason for everything. My son even bragged about watching his programmes online if I refused that he should watch them on cable network.

“Not too long ago, there was a clip being circulated on the net of a baby watching one of Beyonce’s videos. How do you explain to a young child that such a thing is incorrect when millions of people are scrambling to see it and have a good laugh?”

Mr. Gabriel Olise complained that his children are very rude when interrupted while watching television. He said “my children are only five and seven years of age. But any time they are watching cartoons and anyone distracts them, they became very rude in their response. It is like one is giving them a death sentence. They do not want to be disturbed or sent on an errand at such a time.”This is a growing challenge for many parents as most have to resort to spanking such children to get them to behave properly.

In her article, The negative effects of television on children,  Ruth Woodhouse, explained that, “there are always the “goodies” that are out to conquer the “baddies” – but it seems like the end doesn’t justify the means. Children certainly aren’t being given any positive message about how to overcome evil with good. There are no wholesome role models who show by example, the right way to live or how to have a good influence by peaceful means and honourable leadership. It seems to be just an excuse to make cartoons based on violence. The bad characters are always downright vile and totally evil. They are never just normal people who need to be taught a valuable lesson about life. Even at my age, most of these characters are hideous and frightening. I hate to think how they must affect many children and how many kids have nightmares about them.”

In line with this, researchers agree that television, in moderation, can be a good thing as preschoolers can get help learning the alphabet on public television, older children can learn about wildlife on nature shows and parents can keep up with current events on the evening news. No doubt about it — TV can be an excellent educator and entertainer.

But despite its advantages, they point out that too much television viewing can be detrimental. Children who consistently spend more than four hours a day watching TV are more likely to be overweight.

Kids who view violent acts are more likely to show aggressive behaviour but also fear that the world is scary and that something bad will happen to them.

TV characters often depict risky behaviours such as smoking and drinking and also reinforce gender-role and racial stereotypes.

Children’s advocates are divided when it comes to solutions. Although many urge more hours per week of educational programming, others assert that no TV is the best solution. And some say it’s better for parents to control the use of TV and to teach kids that it’s for occasional entertainment, not for constant escapism.


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