Babies and TV Exposure – Good or Bad?
Television, whether playing at the background or a program designed for babies, is not good. According to studies, TV programs that are designed as an educational tool for babies have a potential negative impact and no positive effect on infants. Although the program might be advertised as entertaining, as a parent you should not consider it educational to your baby.
Many TV programs that are geared to babies are actually teaching them the wrong things. The shows with their cartoonish and unnatural depictions distort the reality of the world. Also, the fast pace of these programs teaches your baby’s sponge-like brain that life is always fast-paced. But in the real world, as he will soon find out is much slower and boring and requires a lot of patience.
Many studies around the world have found out that increased TV time leads to delayed development in babies. The studies found out that babies who watch TV are less able to recognize numbers and letters once they start going to school. Besides that, babies usually do not understand what is going on the TV screen until they reach 2 years. After 2 years, media can be a good tool for them.
According to Dr. Sally Ward, a speech and language therapist, there is an increase in the number of babies who have problems in paying attention to a parent speaking to them when there is a TV sound in the background. She says that this is likely to affect the baby’s paying attention in class when they start attending school.
TV sound also affects the interaction between a parent and her baby. The interaction between a mother and her baby is key to language development if a baby. A baby who watches TV mostly becomes a visual learner than a listening learner. A child who watches TV more than interacting with his mother or other family members will have serious problems transitioning from a visual to listening learner. This will affect his school performance a great deal.
Further studies also indicate that babies who have watched TV more have a shorter attention span. They will also be more impulsive and low concentration levels when they reach school going age. This is caused by the TV rewiring your baby’s brain by adapting to the fast pace of the TV programs and over-stimulating the brain cells.
Is it good or bad for your baby to watch TV? Well, there is no study that has found any benefit for your baby to watch TV. The American Academy of Pediatrics currently recommends that toddlers and young children spend no more than one hour a day watching quality educational programming.
Effects of screen time on kids development
a) Social and psychological effects – when your baby is watching TV and he smiles at it, it does not smile back. This is likely to affect your child’s social life. He will learn that when you smile at people, they do not smile back. This will affect his interaction with others.
b) Lack of experimental learning – a child learns best by experimenting. When he plays with something, he learns how to coordinate his sight with touch and sound. When he plays with other children or adults, he learns different emotions. This helps his brains to learn from cause to effect. He thus learns how the world works. When you allow your baby to watch TV, he misses the opportunity to learn by experimenting on different activities.
I think it’s necessary to ket kids bored once in a while – That’s how they learn to be Creative ~Kim Raver
c) Affects brain development – the child’s brain develops during the first 2 years of his life. Allowing your child to watch TV denies him the chance to play with others, interact, manipulate things around him, explore and actively learn. Most of the simple activities that your baby involves himself in at this tender age helps his brain to develop. By interaction and involvement in various activities, your child grows emotionally, socially and intellectually.
d) Slow language development – a baby learns how to speak when he is below 2 years. A language is best learned when a baby interacts with others. When you allow your baby to watch TV, he misses the opportunity to learn how to speak. If your child tries to talk to you and you do not respond to him, he cannot learn how to talk. This is what your TV does to your child. He can try to mimic the characters on TV but they do not respond back to him. This way, he misses learning how to talk.
Advantages of TV
There is a good side to the TV as well. As much as it will not help your baby’s child to develop well, the right TV show can be good. However, this applies only to children above 2 years of age.
A TV program can be beneficial to your child when:
- Does not have violent scenes
- Has a straight storyline. A story that has a clear starting and end point without any flashbacks is ideal for your child.
- A story that uses repetition and review. A child learns from repeated actions.
- A story with labels. This means whatever is said in the program is made visual on the screen
- Engaging. The characters and ideas presented in the show should interest your child.
Disadvantages of TV
- Your child will not start doing an assigned task when the TV is on.
- A child cannot start a task he learned on TV as compared to learning it live.
- Your child cannot play while the TV is on.
- It cuts the interaction time between the baby and the parent.
- TV commercials can sell your child unhealthy foods
- It leads to a decrease in classroom concentration
- Increase in food, snack and soft drink intake.
- Increase in the child’s BMI
- It encourages a sedentary lifestyle
Do Watch TV with Your Baby
The primary reason for allowing kids to watch TV is to keep them busy while a parent is engaged in something. It is used as a distraction. This might be essential under some circumstances. However, in most cases, it denies you the opportunity to interact with your baby.
As a parent, you should watch the TV with your child. While it’s normal to keep quiet while watching TV, watching a show with your child can be a point of starting a conversation with your child. You can use the TV as an educational tool.
As you watch TV with your child, watch for opportunities to describe what is going on. Also, ask your child to share his thoughts on the same. The more you explain about what is going on, the more your child will learn.
However, ensure that you limit the time spent watching TV. It is better to spend more time with your child explaining things to him than waiting for TV time to start a conversation.
Positive Effects of Cartoons on Your Child
Cartoons have both positive and negative effects on children. The positive effects can be seen on the impact it has on your child’s development and behavior. However, this is only possible if you choose the right program for your baby. Below are some of the positive benefits your child can get from watching cartoons:
(i) Early learning – good cartoons can help your baby to start learning early. The positive learning from cartoons can be seen when they teach colors, shapes and numbers. Good cartoons combine fun and learning and in an interactive manner. This makes your child’s learning enjoyable. The talking and moving pictures with different colors shades help children to learn faster.
(ii) Lessons about life – a good children story can offer your child important lessons about life. Some of the important lessons that your child can learn include teamwork, cooperation, healthy eating, positive self-image, problem-solving skills to mention just but a few.
(iii) Laughter and stress relief – laughter is a good stress reliever. Kids find cartoon characters funny and they often laugh aloud at the antics of the actors. Laughing does help your child build his immunity. Besides that, laughing helping in the release of endorphin hormone. This hormone is responsible for the feel-good mood.
(iv) Enhance creativity – a good cartoon show can help improve your child’s creativity and imagination. Inspired by the cartoon, your child can think and come up with brilliant stories even for his class work.
(v) Cognitive development – cartoons can help your child develop his cognitive skills. It can help him develop his memory, be able to reason logically. Apart from that, he will be able to develop his visual and audio process very fast.
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Violence in Children Cartoons
Many parents avoid allowing their children from watching TV for fear of their children becoming couch potatoes. But children experts give better reasons as to why you should keep your child away from the TV. The TV can fry your child’s brain. Your child is better off engaging in physical activities and interacting with other kids than watching TV.
Just because it’s a children cartoon and showing on a children channel does not make it right for your child. As a matter of fact, most cartoon shows are more detrimental to your child’s developing brain. This is due to the violence they contain. Besides the violence, most cartoon programs also teach disobedience among other social vices.
Below are some of the most common cartoons with most violence that your child should not watch completely. These cartoons are specially designed for children.
1. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
This cartoon show has a lot of negative teachings for your child. The unconventional nature of the cartoon setup, four green turtles being taught by a rat living in sewage is unnatural. Each of these cartoon’s episodes is full of violence.
The violence in the cartoon can entice your child to imitate their rough antics in real life. After every violent act in the episode, the turtles celebrate with boxes of pizza. This sends a message to your child that violence pays. Also, it can encourage your child to consume a lot of unhealthy food.
2. Tom and Jerry
The cartoon depicts the rivalry between the mouse and the cat. The manner in which the rivalry is brought out through violent attacks is unhealthy. The violence is visible through the bashing of the skull, the hammering and pounding of fingers in such painful ways. Your child is likely to copy what he sees and use it on his playmates.
3. Scooby Doo
Although this cartoon does not depict violence openly, it negatively affects children. In their effort to solve the different problems they find themselves, the characters break into old and abandoned buildings and homes. This can teach your child that it is okay to break into private properties or trespass into other people’s properties. Most of the time, the cartoon show does not show the consequences of their actions but we know very well there are consequences in real life.
4. Dragon Ball Z
Among the most violent cartoons is Dragon Ball Z. The general message of this cartoon is that even if you can, you can come back to life and stronger. Also, the vengeance against those who do them bad. The cartoon teaches children that it’s okay to revenge and hurt those that cross their line.
5. The Little Mermaid
This animated program is meant for girls. The main character, Ariel is seen defying her father’s directions and still remain his favorite kid. She defies her father’s wishes until her father finally allows her to do as she pleases.
The cartoon is teaching your child to start defying your upbringing even at a tender age. This teaches your baby the wrong way of living even at a tender age.
How TV Affects Your Child’s Eyes
Can TV damage your child’s eyes? The quick answer to that question is yes.
Research shows children begin zooming in on digital media devices, such as their parents’ tablets or smartphones, as young as 6 months old. By their teens, kids spend nearly 7 hours a day using screened-based media, watching TV, playing video games, and using social media; this doesn’t include additional time spent using screens at school or for homework. Watching TV can trigger many eyesight related complications. The following few ways through which the TV can affect your child’s eyes:
i. Double vision – this condition is also known as diplopia. It is mostly caused by too much straining of the eyes. This is when the eyes work really hard on one task and they become tired. While it might not cause a serious health problem to your child, it is advisable to give your child a break from steering at the screen.
ii. Headache and sore eyes – when the eyes are overstrained, it can result in the sore becoming sore. Sometimes a headache can result. The straining of the eyes is common during the night.
iii. Blurred vision – another problem that is associated with too much TV is blurred vision. This is caused by refractive errors. Your child might be struggling to see the images on the TV for different reasons.
iv. Macular degeneration – another condition that your child might experience is macular degeneration. This occurs when the part of the retina that is responsible for image formation starts to decline. This will also affect your child’s ability to read and write. The degeneration of the macular often results in poor recognition of various colors.
v. Tilting the head – does your baby tilt his head when he is watching TV? This might be because there is a vertical imbalance between is eyes. He tilts his head so as to avoid experiencing double vision.
If your child shows any of the above signs, he might be having eye problems. However, to be sure about his condition consult an optometrist for a full diagnosis of your child’s condition.
In the modern world of technological advancement, it might be hard to avoid exposing your child to the television. But as a parent, you can help shape your child’s TV viewing choices. The following are some of the tips on how to make sense out of your baby’s TV viewing:
• Nurture your child to learn positive things from TV shows. For instance, if your child becomes interested in animals, find books that explain about animals and help him read. Alternatively, you can search on the internet about the animal of interest and educate him.
• Watch it with your child. Sometimes you find kids of the same age discussing a given program they watched. If you sit with your child and watch a program together, you can have an opportunity to explain things to him. This will help him reason logically and know why some things happen the way they do.
• Ensure watches TV in moderation. Children experts advice that one hour a day is sufficient for the developing mind. Encourage him to play and be engaged in other activities than spending all the time glued to the TV.