Sunday, December 12, 2004

Television and your child

Television and your child
Have you ever wondered what influence Television has on the mental development of your child? I amend, not only mental but their physical outlook as well. Lets see what is the routine of a school going child nowadays. In the morning its off to school, in the afternoon have food (mostly while watching Television) and then either take a short nap or a tutor comes to get the homework done. In the evening again more of television or games on the computer. Dinners are also consumed mostly while watching TV and then off to bed. So lets see – out of 24 hours, besides the time spent at school and sleeping, the major chunk is spent by the child either watching TV or playing video games. Now lets go a few years back, say 20-30 years and compare the routine of children then. The sleeping and school hours are the same. Difference is in the time spent indoor/outdoors. Majority of the children were out in playgrounds, playing any sort of games ranging from cricket, hockey to pithu, stappu etc. It used to be task for the moms to get the children inside for meals and bed. Exposure to TV was very limited. Usually the child was packed off to bed by latest 10:00 PM, which is not the case nowadays. One wonders that with the advancing technology and all, whats the harm in your child being conversant with computers as early as possible. After all it’s a competitive world. You are absolutely right. A child needs to be an all rounder in this competitiveness. But, hello, all rounder means he should be good in outdoor activities also. There is usually a balance of mental and physical development, which should be maintained. What is happening is that, due to less exposure to outdoor games and spending more time inside, children are becoming very dull intellectually and weak physically. Lot of illnesses e.g. Asthma are on the rise due to decrease in physical activity of children. Child becomes more introvert due to limited friends. In fact I have seen that the petty tiffs during playing between friends helps children to become confidant and bold enough to face bigger situations later on. Now lets look at the other aspect of spending more time indoors in front of TV and computers. We all know that the TV has all kinds of programs ranging from cartoons to songs to violence to horror to sexual content. What effect do you think these kinds of programs have on the innocent mind of a child? In fact I was reading in a magazine that a 6-year-old child threatened to commit suicide by stabbing himself if he is not allowed to watch a certain program on TV. This idea came into his mind by watching TV, because I am sure he did not see any of this behavior occurring in his home. It was very difficult for the mother to tackle such an aggressive behavior of an otherwise happy go lucky child. Simple cartoon programs like Tom and Jerry also have some amount of violence in them. A lot of movies and music videos are showing explicit sexual exposure, which encourages children to indulge into such activities. I know it is impractical to totally cut off TV completely, but the watching hours can be made limited. And also encourage them to watch programs on Discovery and History channel etc. In fact you can make it more interesting by later on reading and discussing about the particular animal or history event seen on TV. This will make the child more inquisitive and knowledge some. Also you will be spending more quality time with him. I would compare a child to a simple lump of clay, which can be molded to any form you like. In this the parents have a major role to play. Encourage the child to play outdoor games and not substituting them by video games and watching Television.
Dr. Poonam Gupta

1 comment:

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