Watching TV during the long holidays

How much TV are our children watching?

How many hours of TV are our children watching? Well, during holidays the answer can be as many hours as they’re awake, especially if you live in the middle-class urban neighborhoods where playing space is limited if not non-existent.

Think about it; in most households the TV comes on as soon as people get up, and stays on as background noise even when no-one is watching. Children grow up knowing that being indoors means TV. Such unlimited and unsupervised TV does little favour to children, if anything, the results are on the contrary.

Early Exposure limits Brain Development

Have you noticed that TVs are now used to babysit? Toddlers only months old are left in front of the TV for hours, and actually seem occupied. ‘My baby loves TV’, parents will say. But what is he/she really watching? Research shows that children under the age of 18 months may stare at the pictures and motions on a screen, but can’t really make sense of any of them.

They say you are what you eat, and the same applies to the brain. When babies watch TV, you’re feeding their brains on, well, nothing! You know what develops their brain? Interactions. The cuddling, playing, exploring and communicating helps them to engage with the real world. It also improves their attention span, language development, memory and motor skills.

TV is Passive: Emotionally and physically

TV does not engage children to do or think; they can sit there inactive for hours. Remember the competencies that CBC seeks to build? Among them is collaboration, critical thinking, problem solving, creativity and imagination. These skills are best developed by brain-stimulating activity that offers actual obstacles and challenges.

Physically, the inactivity leads to unfit and overweight children, and an increased risk of obesity. Doctors are already warning that rickets could escalate to a national epidemic if we do not take the babies out for sun. Let’s not raise couch potatoes; there are plenty of alternate activities that we can engage them in.

Negative Influences

You’ll be surprised with the sort of content they’re broadcasting this days marked safe for children. There’s so much violence in some of these kids movies and cartoons. Exposure to violence results in a child with less empathy for the suffering of others; he/she has seen it all anyway. Such children are also likely to portray aggressive behavior, since the violent people in these programs are portrayed as heroes.

Early exposure to sexual content is also rife. Your children may be fed with incorrect notions about sex even before you have a chance to have the conversation with them.

So far we’re assuming that your children are actually watching children’s content; which may not be the case. With so many channels available nowadays, even parental control options are hardly adequate to censor what kids watch. Your kids could be exposed to vulgar language, obscene dances, drugs and God knows what else.

There are plenty of alternative activities to this indefinite TV watching. Have a timetable that allocates a few hours for TV and the rest of the time for other activities like play, hobbies, recreational reading and house chores. This few years you have with your young children should be maximized to impart values and skills; do not let the TV take that away from you.