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Watching of telivision by our children

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Most parents I know worry about how much television their children are watching, but I see very little being done about actually cutting down their children’s television time. The average child watches three to four hours of T. V. a day and another two and a half hours more on the television watching movies or playing video games, for a total of six and a half hours of television a day. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, a little more than half of our children have a T. V. in their bedrooms, and three- quarters of children eat their dinner in front of the television. All of this television is taking time away from our children’s lives, which could be replaced with more crucial and beneficial activities such as reading, exercising, and playing with friends. Instead, our children are seeing the wrong messages from the programs they are watching, including, sex, violence, drugs, racism, war, bad language, and even suicide, that sometimes carry into their every- day lives. Our children are seeing all these adult images before they should.

There are many different avenues in television programming that demonstrates violence to our children. As a child I remember how I feared the killer patrolling the streets with his razor-sharp knife or fingers waiting to pierce my body. I would have never had this fear without the blood and gore of horror films that were shown on late- night television. These movies almost always showed a weak plot based on violent actions, and in the end there never showed the perpetrator as being punished, leading some children to believe that violence can be accomplished without a consequence. Another passageway to violence is through what has been called “professional” wrestling. The WWF is a terrible way that instills violence into our children. This semi- reality show has turned our children into body- slamming idiots, having no understanding that these actions they see on television do hurt people.

This display of violence on this show illustrates to children that no harm and no pain comes even after you body slam you little sister onto the floor, but there has been many times were our children have learned the hard lesson that violence they have seen on T.V. does hurt. Our children do not have to be watching such extreme television shows to get violence instilled into them. The “harmless” cartoons that they watch daily are doing the same thing. From the very beginning of TV cartoons there has been violence. Bugs Bunny, While E. Coyote, and Yosemite Sam, all had very violent tendencies that showed the use of hand- guns, showed no harm and no pain, the character usually went unpunished, and they never showed non- violent alternatives. This continues through most cartoons today.

One source of turbulence in a child’s life is what they see on the news each day. Since the tragedies of September 11, 2001 many parents have been worried about what their children are seeing on the news each day. The news these days are filled with graphic scenes of war and violence in the Middle East. According to a report put out in January of 2002, by the American Academy of Child and Adolescence Psychiatry, it is reported that even though there is a decrease in crime, the reporting of crime on the news has increased by 240%. All these graphic images can make a child feel uneasy about their own safety; in some children it can increase aggression and violent behaviors, and can desensitize children to violence. While I believe it is important for a child to understand what is going on in the world, we must also protect them from these images. There are many ways to help our children through this. One is to talk to our children about what they have seen and heard, another is to make sure that we limit the time they spend watching the news. It is important that if a natural disaster happens, that we do not allow our child to watch it over and over, as many of us did when the twin towers disasters happened.

Well they always say that sex sells, and boy does it for our children. Kids are always trying to figure out a way to watch sexually explicit material on TV. But these days they don’t have to look far. Shows these days are filled with sex, whether it is blatant or subtle. Talk shows these days are filled with families that have teen- agers who are sexually promiscuous, or pregnant. Our children at home see this and want to follow suit. There are also TV dating shows, showing young adults on dates doing unbelievable things like making out on the first date, showing their body parts to their date, and people who test their current relationships by going out with other people and end up kissing and sleeping with their new date. This shows out children that sex is commonplace and that premarital sex is routine in our society.

Sex is also sold in music videos, along with drugs, alcohol use, violence, sexism, murder, and suicide. One forth of all music videos portrays overt violence, and depicts weapon carrying. Alcohol and drug use is glamorized by music videos, which constitutes for a large number of use between teens. Sexism is portrayed in these videos against women by calling them terrible names and then shows women as property of gangs. In the past there has been a glamorization of suicide in music videos, one by artist Emminem, which can help a teen on the edge find it to be easier to end their life.

The newer trend that started a couple years back was reality television. It seams that this was pretty innocent at first, but after many different shows followed it seems to have become just as much a problem to our children as the rest of television. The mainstream broadcasting station first reality TV show, Survivor seemed pretty innocent, but after further examination there is more to it. It starts out with many people on an island, outback, rainforest, etc., but as the game goes on the people end up having to do many things we teach our children against, in order to become the winner. It can teach our children that trust is wrong. In order to play most of these games, you can’t trust what an opponent says in order to cover your back. At the same time it is teaching our children to lie to get your way. Lying in the game is the key way to get to the end. In all the reality shows it teaches our children that it doesn’t matter what you do to get the money in the end, money is everything. In some reality shows, such as Temptation Island, is teaching our children negative sexual moral values. It is also teaching our children that lust and infidelity are okay as long as they get money in the end. The television corporations have even gone as far as putting people into a marriage situation, such as The Bachelor, and Adverage Joe, which puts one man in a situation with many different women, and he has to pick which one he chooses to propose to. This lowers marriage down to a game, and not what it was intended to be, a sacred union between a man and a woman.

Toy corporations are feeding off our children. During a half hour cartoon or children’s programming, a child gets bombarded with almost one half of that time as commercials of things that children “need”. This teaches our children that life is just about earning money and buying things. Commercials are edited for children so that the product is accompanied by catchy music, colorful images, and rapid-fire way of delivering an appeal to our young children. Our children remember these commercials and can usually spit out part of the jingle when they ask for the item. They are so ingrained with these commercials that the companies tell them what they want in life, instead of our children thinking about what they really do want. For the children who like to watch sports, such as football and baseball, children see a plethora of beer commercials, which are portrayed as humorous or cause a man to become a woman magnet. Children can’t decipher, most of the time, what is reality, and what is false. Children who watch alcohol commercials are more likely to try alcohol earlier in life.

The rating system used at this time to help parents decipher what to let their children watch is not working. There have been many attempts to help parents either block out or limit their children from watching unwanted programming. There has been the rating system that is shown in the corner of the TV for the first ten seconds of the program. The problem with that is that it is not required on any programs other than those on channels made for children, and those who do show them, many may not see them because they tune in the show later. Another attempt was the cable companies have a way to block out certain channels on the TV with a subscription to digital cable a password to block channels. The problem with that is that for the parents that can’t afford digital cable, don’t get that option. Then there was another idea implemented by the Federal Communications Commission, that required all television sets made from 2000 on to install a V- chip in the TV. The V- chip makes it so a parent can block out any television ratings they don’t want their child to watch. Of course if you are like me, I have an older TV that doesn’t have this V- chip in it, and I don’t have the money to buy a new TV just for that. So I guess the solution is to either watch television with your child so you know what they are watching, or do not let them watch TV at all.

So what is all this television doing to our children’s health? TV is turning our children into obese couch potatoes. With all the time that our children are sitting in front of the TV, either watching programming, taped movies, or video games, the don’t have any time to get outside the idiot box, and get exercise. These over- weight children are at high risk of diabetes, which the Academy of Pediatrics says that now one in ten children have. U. S. children are the fattest in the world, which when grown up ends up with fat adults. These children that are overweight, have a low self- esteem, from body image, and from peer pressure. These overweight children also have a high cholesterol count, and are at high risk in early adulthood to have a heart- attack.

Besides overweight children, there have been reports of TV show causing seizures due to flashing lights (this happened in a Pokemon episode in Japan 3 years ago, over 750 children were effected). Excessive television watching is considered an addiction, and has all the characteristics of such. Addicted children get belligerent when the TV gets turned off on them and they can go through withdrawals without it. Also children who watch a lot of television have a marked decrease in school performance, due to the obsession with programs and video games. There also are experiments that show that TV can be a cause of a lot of reported causes of Attention Deficit Disorder, since children’s TV programs do not hold a picture for more than five seconds at a time. This rapid change of picture is said to cause children to have a short attention span.

I don’t know what happened to our children in the last 20 years. What happened to the time when the worst violence our children reenacted was cowboys and Indians? What happened to the days when our children use to play outdoors all day? And, what happened to our children discovering the innocence of the fist kiss? Those days are gone due to television. The images that TV has shown our children have turned them into adult’s way before their time. Let us kill our televisions and spend that time with our children; take them to a park, the zoo, or to a ball game. Retain whom our children are for as long as we can, they have the rest of their lives to learn about the adult world.

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