Posted on | Saturday, April 9, 2011 | 1 Comment
Television's introduction was accompanied by excitement and optimism, followed almost immediately by criticisms and concerns about its impact on children's development. Critics linked television to every ill effect from hyperactive toddlers to violent youth, prompting consideration of regulations for children's television. Changes in regulations have been fueled not only by political shifts but also by ongoing research on children's use of television and television's influences on children's development.
To understand television's potential impact on development, one must consider how much children watch television, how they direct their attention, and what they comprehend.
Children are consumers of a variety of media, including computers, video games, print media, videotapes, music, and television. Although television is the most commonly used medium, viewing time varies with age. The family environments of those who view more television tend to share certain characteristics: parents who watch a lot of television, television left on as background noise, and a television in the child's room.
Children often have been characterized as "zombie" viewers who stare mindlessly at television for hours. Instead, naturalistic and laboratory studies of how children watch television indicate that children typically divide television viewing among a variety of activities. At all ages, children primarily monitor television content with short looks and only occasionally engage in extended looks at the television. Just as total viewing time changes across age, the percentage of time children spend actually looking at the television increases through middle school then drops slightly during adolescence.
Another common misconception is that the changing sights and sounds of television passively "capture" young children's attention. For example, the presence of children's voices, peculiar voices, sound effects, animation, and puppets cue children to the child-relevance of the content. Children's ongoing comprehension also influences their attention. Many have claimed that until late in elementary school, children make little sense of most programs because they are poor at selecting important events, connecting events, and inferring causes of events. Nonetheless, if plots depend on concrete action sequences, if dialogue and action support one another, and if story events relate to children's experiences, even preschool children can understand relatively complex stories.
Young children are capable of making such inferences, if they comprehend simple;
Displacement theory suggests that time spent with television leads to a decrease in more valuable activities, such as reading and imaginative play. While evidence supporting this proposal is mixed, children who view television most heavily seem to spend less time engaged in activities that encourage cognitive development.There are, of course, limits on young children's comprehension of television programs and considerable development in comprehension skills during middle childhood and adolescence. Older children and teens also become more skilled at connecting groups of events to an overall theme. Television may influence children's development in a variety of ways. Two broad areas for consideration are effects on children's cognitive development and academic achievement and effects on children's social development and relationships with others
Does Television Affect Thinking and Achievement?
Parents and teachers have long voiced concerns regarding television's potential effects on children's thinking and school achievement. For light to moderate television viewers, program content, family interaction, and opportunities for other activities moderate television's effects on children's achievement and creativity
Does Television Affect Behavior with Others?
Several overlapping theories offer reasons why television may exert effects.
Arousal theory emphasizes physiological responses that can be produced by television programs. The excitement of shows that produce physical arousal will attract many children. Perhaps the most compelling evidence for this perspective is that children show reduced responses to real-life aggression after viewing televised violence.
Social cognitive theory, developed by psychologist Albert Bandura, stresses that children learn many social behaviors by observing those modeled by others. Heavy exposure to television characters who succeed by behaving in aggressive, violent, or stereotypical ways may encourage children to use similar strategies in their own lives. Numerous studies provide evidence that heavy exposure to televised violence is linked to increased aggressive behavior in children and adolescents.
Script theories address ways in which television influences the development of children's knowledge and beliefs about the world. In turn, children's expectations may guide their behaviors. Parent activism has spurred the development of broadcasting regulations, which in turn may exert some influence on children's viewing. Direct parental involvement, however, may have the greatest potential to affect the nature of television's impact on children's development. When children are young, it is relatively simple for parents to provide guidance concerning the amount and kind of viewing children do. As children get older, parents can assist them in viewing critically and can avoid creating an environment that assigns television undue importance (e.g., a television in the child's room). Together, federal regulations and parental vigilance may help television contribute positively to children's development (social.jrank.org)