Taming the Tube: Effects of TV on Children Debbie Richardson, M.S. Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Child Development Assistant Specialist April 2005
Television • News • TV Shows • Reality Shows • Music Videos • Commercials - $41.8 billion spent on advertising in 2002 • Sports • Other – Movies, Cartoons, etc.
The Age of Television • TV’s are larger, have more realistic color and images than ever before • 248 million TV sets in U.S. households • 98% of households have at least one tv • Extreme Cable - access to dozens, even hundreds, of channels and video movies – 1,937 broadcasting networks and stations • Violence and childhood obesity in the U.S. has increased
The average American child: Spends: • 28 hours a week with TV • 30 hours a week in a classroom • 39 minutes a week talking one–on–one with a parent By high school graduation: • Spends18,000 hours in front of a TV set, and only 13,000 hours in a classroom • Observes 200,000 violent acts and 16,000 murders
The influence of media on children • Dramatically influences children at all ages. • Children are physically passive, yet mentally alert when watching TV. • Repetition – violence becomes so familiar that it becomes normal • Reduced boundaries between adult and child knowledge. • Both quantity and quality matter.
Heavy viewers of TV Kids watching 4 or more hours per day… • Put in less effort on school work • Have poorer reading skills • Play less well with friends • Have fewer hobbies and activities • More likely to be overweight
Television & Child Development • Vulnerability in the younger years • Importance of early nutrition and eating habits • In early years children are sensitive to stimulation and modeling, and cannot filter out the negative • Infants and toddlers need response and reinforced stimulation – two things TV cannot provide
Television & Child Development • Walking, talking, & thinking are realized and learned through real interactions with people • Sensory, emotional, & physical deprivation and/or overstimulation can occur with television
Birth to 18 months • Lights, color, and sound of the television are appealing • Can recognize characters but cannot understand content • Parent-child interaction during this time is crucial
18 months to 3 years • By 3, most have a “favorite” program • Children can begin extracting meaning from what they watch • Likely to imitate behaviors seen on TV • Learn new words and language skills
Three to Six Year Olds • Play is essential – experience is the teacher • Exploration facilitates understanding how the world works • Television does not offer opportunities for active play and interactive exploration • Can recognize “good” and “bad” characters • Most likely to act aggressively after watching aggressive characters
Six to Eight • TV time drops because of school attendance and activities • Usually want to watch non-educational television • Effects of media violence are especially critical in this time
Nine to Twelve • Believe that what they see is a reflection of “real” life • Develop television heroes/role models • Self-esteem & identity are influenced greatly • Critical age for television influence on body image
Effects on Body Image & Gender Identity • Boys • Violence is acceptable • Body dissatisfaction • Treatment of women • Girls • Ideal Weight & Image • Gender Roles – stereotypes • Effects on self-esteem
Does the television still have hope? • Government action • The 1990 Children's Television Act was the first congressional act that specifically regulated children's television. • Imposed an obligation on broadcasters to serve the educational and informational needs of children.
Parental involvement • Attention to content and ratings • Regular communication about content • Limit setting & monitoring • Providing alternative activities • Educational programming • Children who regularly watch curriculum-education based programs have better problem-solving skills, language abilities, and social skills. • Examples of programs used in research proven to be beneficial • Blue’s Clues, Dora the Explorer, Arthur, and Clifford
Issues to be concerned about • Media violence and the affects on children and the society as a whole • Increasing rates of childhood obesity, contributed to television viewing • Likelihood of inappropriate content becoming more common instead of less • Busier lives which means less monitoring of television watching • Others?
Tips for Taming the Tube • Avoid using TV as a babysitter • Know what kids are watching • Set guidelines about what they can watch • Decide in advance what is “good TV” • No TV during meals • Encourage alternative activities • Create a TV coupon system • Have control of your own TV viewing – be a role model
Ratings & V-chips • Both are advances in improving childrens’ exposure to negative television • Both are now standard • Similar v-chips are available for DVD/VHS movies – language is taken out
Ratings for audience appropriateness • TV-G • TV-PG • TV-14 • TV-MA • Ratings for content • L – language • V – violence • AS – adult situations • N – nudity • S – Sexual Content
Resources • Websites • Books • Initiatives/Advocacy • TV-Turnoff Week, • April 25 - May 1, 2005
“This instrument can teach, it can illuminate; yes, and it can even inspire. But it can do so only to the extent that we humans are determined to use it to those ends. Otherwise, it is merely wires and lights in a box. There is a great, perhaps decisive battle to be fought, against ignorance, intolerance and indifference. This weapon of television can be useful.” Edward R. Murrow, Television Reporter