Psychosocial Impact of Television on Children Essay

Published: 2020-04-22 15:25:56
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Category: Childhood

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Television was once considered a luxury item, however, today is just a commodity. Even low income households have one television set, not only for entertainment but to keep in touch with the happenings around the world. Television, like any other technological advancement, bought with it negatives and positives to the society. It was once only used as a medium of news and light entertainment, mostly by the elders of a household. Now though it has expanded its purpose and is now commonly used for various purposes by all age groups.

As mentioned in earlier conclusions, television itself is not a harmful device; previous studies have shown that its own effects are neither positive nor negative. However, it is the programmes that are aired that effect the society; especially on the physical and psychological well-being of the younger generations. Research papers, different forms of studies and articles have found the effects of television both, harmful and useful, on the development of a child. Even the primary research done through qualitative method of interviewing proved that television has no connection between the style and attention of parents.

Instead the parents remained intact with the activities of their children regardless of their television watching habits. This discussion highlights various positives and negatives of television usage by the children. Krosnick, Anand and Hartl (2003) have identified three psychosocial predictors of viewing television. The first one they say is the need satisfaction, which occurs due to lack in the ability to socially interacting with peers, over intelligence, and to avoid parental punishment.

Parental influence was nominated as the second one where absence of parental guidance and rules lead to increase in watching television. The last one was resource availability where it was found that it has no link with the overall income of the household. Gupta, Saini, Acharya and Miglani (1994) have identified almost all positives and negatives within two paragraphs of their research paper. They define the most positive effects of television watching as an aid to the development of cognitive ability, a source of information, knowledge and skill development.

They mention that it also generates the desire of learning and imparts general awareness. It can also have a positive effect on the attitudes and behavior of the child while advancing conceptual and concrete thinking. They then highlight the negatives as the excuse to let go of reading, playing, exercising, and studying; thus giving rise to a passive behavior. When children continue watching television their social interaction may decline and their eating habits can also be harmed.

A pre-TV introduction (age 3-4) and post-TV introduction (age 7-8) study was conducted by Gunter, Charlton, Coles and Panting (2000). Their study results show that the effects (positives and negatives) are usually according to the gender of the child. A more antisocial behavior was witnessed in the boys after the introduction of the TV; whereas the girls social behavior was unaffected. Both of the genders however did not display any inter-gender difference. The researchers saw that cartoon viewing was highly linked to pre-TV antisocial behavior and post-TV neuroticism levels.

This did not change even when the viewing of violent acts was controlled; thus proving that the presence of any nonviolent ingredient had an effect on the unruly children. Watching cartoons was also related to decrease in the level of anxiety among children. The minds, values, thinking styles, and even social behavior are continuously developing at early age. Due to this it can be greatly affected by the elements present in the life of the child. They are vulnerable to the information conveyed through television, and it may cause a long-term effect.

As their views and perceptions are not developed yet they cannot distinguish between the reality and the made-up stuff (Team headed by Baron, 2001). The paper also mentions that almost two-third of the programmes that are aired contain violent acts of some sort, out of which most shows are for children. It would have been a learning experience if the bad guys are punished severely, but at times they are set free without punishment and violence is shown as part of a glamorized world.

According to APA (2004) by viewing violent behavior repeatedly children can become immune towards the pain and suffering of others, at the same time they can also become fearful of the world around them. This proves that it is not necessary that the depiction of the violent acts can cause harm in more than one ways. Children can also become stressed, depressed, or pessimistic due to the negativity being imposed. They might start judging people and world as a bad place which has nothing to offer but pain and misery to the innocent people.

Hussain (2007) says that the exposure to violence and the glory of bad guy makes children start to portray aggressive and violent behavior assuming that it is socially accepted and normal. Viewing of television has also been known to cause Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD), which is described as inattentiveness, lack of impulse control, and hyperactivity. ADHD has been known to cause problems in learning and educational field. Television watching can also have a negative impact on the health of a child (Team headed by Baron, 2001).

It can lead to a belief that looking like actors and models is beauty; thus taking away the innocence of a child. This has really negative effects on females who start developing body concept and self-image and start dieting at a very early age. Another social disadvantage is the division that this body image will cause amongst the children. At a very early age they will start distinguishing their peers as fat, skinny, chubby, beautiful and ugly and this trait will strengthen as they grow older. Another problem related to health and social issues is that of sexuality as mentioned by CPS (2003).

Children hear the word sex on television for the first time rather than from their health care provider or parents. It has taken the role of the sex educator. Movies, shows, and even kids cartoon characters are shown as involved in sexual acts. Children are led to believe that it is normal and risk-free, and everybody does it. This has lead to increasing number of sexually active individuals than ever. Strasburger (1995) has selected the sexuality related data in a table which shows the influence of television on the sexual acts at early age.

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