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TV - The Idiot Box

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TV - The Idiot Box
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Parents scolding children for excessive and unsuitable TV.-viewing is a very common syndrome but children appeared most unhappy about this. " Our parents keep on saying , read, read, read all the time. They want us to do nothing but study. They don't let us watch TV . We do need some entertainment also. Without it studies become dull and uninteresting ," said one boy. " Whenever I watch some programme my mother tells me to go and study. She thinks, I am wasting my time . But while I'm reading she may call me to help her in her household work without bothering about my studies. When I am watching TV she will again tell me to study," pointed out a girl.

"They (parents ) say you'll be spoiled, if you watch MTV " another boy butted in. 'We should be allowed to watch TV serials. We do read, we do our homework and all, we must be allowed to watch the serials since these are shown once a week. If we miss one , we'll have to wait for a week, " said yet another boy.

Strictness and discrimination

Parents and teachers very often complain that children do

not have enough respect for them. But what do the children say ? "So far as the teachers are concerned, most of them are too strict. They do not love us. If they're in a bad mood, they do not even talk to us properly and ventilate their anger on us . Another thing which we do not like at all is their being partial . If I come late I am punished but if XX who is a favourite of the f teacher does so he is not."

Double standards

"Our parents teach us to always speak the truth and never tell lies but they themselves do not do so. If my mother gets a call from someone with whom she does not want to speak to, she tells me to say that she is sleeping. Similarly, if my father does not want to meet someone he generally sends me to tell the person that he is not at home. All these are lies but no one scolds them. Why I'm taken to task ? When I ask them the reason they say you'll not understand but I am never convinced with their answer," says a eight-year boy.

Effect of Television on Children

Children are mainly exposed to television, television violence and television culture at home. Thus parents play a vital role in helping children to make sense of what they see on the television.

These days television influences the lives of young children and it is only going to get worst with each passing year. It is very challenging for young children to make choices of what programs they should watch. Because of the lack of experience they need more help from adults. Weaning children away from television programmes is a challenge. Children's media are designed to get attention and keep it. 

Some Horrifying facts about media violence in children's lives:
  • By the end of elementary school, the average child will have seen 8,000 murders and 100,000 other violent acts in the media.
  • Children's cartoons and action programs average more than 20 acts of violence per hour, compared with 5 acts per hour during prime-time hours.
  • The sale of Mighty Morphine Power Ranger products (based on the extremely violent TV show) surpassed $1 billion in 1994.
  • More than $3 billion of products related to the Star Wars movie have been sold worldwide.
  • In one survey, more than 90% of teachers thought the Power Rangers led to increased violence among the children they taught.
Some Action Ideas:
  1. First of all as a parent, take charge. Develop guidelines for your child as to how much television she/he can watch. The less the television time the better it is. Since young children do not have the concept of time, deciding on the number of shows they can watch can be an option. Select programs that are designed to promote positive development and learning. Some experts suggest no more than an hour a day for young children. Experts have suggested a simple chart that parents can use with their children, for example:

    Plan for TV viewing for  ____________________________

    Day of week         Picture of Show #1            Picture of Show #2 

    _________          Time:                                   Time: 


    _________          Time:                                   Time:

    Children as young as three years old can plan by drawing pictures of the show they plan to watch.
  2. You can develop TV rules for home. Please make sure that as a parent you follow them as well and be consistent. You can come up with some rules as for example, TV only on weekends, no TV before school, no TV after dinner, no violent shows, etc. This plan of action will be more effective if you develop these rules with your child because she/he will feel that her/his voice is heard. The more meaningful and understandable a rule is for a child, the more likely it will work.
  3. Keep television out of your child's bedroom. The best place is the family room. Watch television together as a family when you can. Talk about what your child sees on the television.
  4. Parents are role models for their children. So refrain from making television your prime source of recreation. This will encourage your child to look for other options rather than watch television for recreation. Inculcate healthy habits like enjoying outdoor activities or help she/he develop a hobby like stamp collection, painting, star gazing, learning to play a musical instrument, etc. 
  5. Try not to buy products which may include clothes, backpacks, shoes, besides toys--that are directly linked to  television shows or are advertised during  programmes. Remember, choose toys that promote creativity.
  6. Help your child understand a true meaning of hero-that the real heroes are those who work hard and make a world a better place for example, parents, teachers, doctors, firefighters, etc. are real heroes.
  7. Interact with your child's teacher. Ask her as to what is her plan of action if some children in the class constantly talk about  television programs and exhibit violent behavior as a result of watching such programs. Network with other parents as well as your child's teacher to reduce the negative aspects of the media culture in the wider society. Express your opinions and your concerns to the local TV stations.