Thursday, June 24, 2004

Harry Potter; Television & kids

I am a big fan of the Harry Potter series. Yesterday I watched the third movie in the series & enjoyed it. I think it provides so much creativity & imagination for kids to use in their own life.
However it set me thinking about the time children nowadays are spending indoors, whether watching TV, playing video games, or gong to watch highly publicised movies. I feel that certain amount of time is needed for children to indulge in what some adults would describe as 'timepass' or unstructured activity. This would necessarily involve cutting down on TV time for most children.
Limit children's daily viewing to one or two hours.
Parents to choose and decide what the child should watch. Avoid frequent channel changing.
Watch TV with your children.
Discuss the programmes soon after viewing. Find out the effects these shows had on the child and correct any faulty impressions.
Discuss TV violence. Talk about how TV characters solve their problems, and see if you and your children can find more realistic solutions.
Encourage alternative methods of spending leisure time like hobbies, outdoor games, peer group interactions etc.
Ban programmes you strongly oppose and tell your children the reason for your stand.
Encourage watching good programmes. Explain to your children the harmful effects of watching unrealistic excessively simplistic and violent programmes.
Avoid commercials. Teach children how advertisers attempt to manipulate viewers.
Become active in determining local programming. Call or write to local stations to express your approval and disapproval of content of programmes as well as commercials.

TV viewing can have a lot of negative effects for the young mind; lack of exercise, obesity, decreased creativity & language skills, eye strain, decreased sensitivity to violence, academic problems, irrational fear (by watching scary programs) are some of the well known issues. Young minds are easily swayed by popular heroes & may indulge in dangerous activities (like jumping of buildings after watching 'Shaktiman' an Indian equivalent of Superman).
A recent study in Pediatrics journal seems to even indicate that TV exposure in young children (1-3 years) may increase the chances of ADHD (Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) in children & reduce their attention span!
Kids try to copy adults, so if you stop watching the sports channel & the 'saas & bahu' TV serials, rest assured there will be more quality time for you & the kids.
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