Is Watching TV Bad for Children?

Some experts have suggested that children under the age of 12 should watch no more than one hour of television each day. But for many parents, trying to tear children away from the TV can be an on-going battle. But is watching television really bad for children?

Yes – Elizabeth
I’m shocked at the amount of violence, sex and bad language that is shown on television every day. Once upon a time it was restricted to after the watershed so you could protect children from it but now it seems to have permeated through the entire television schedule. Soap operas routinely show violent behaviour and supposedly ‘family entertainment’ shows often feature overtly sexual dance routines. It isn’t healthy for children to be exposed to this from a young age as it teaches them that this is what real life is like, when it’s not.

As well as teaching children poor moral values, too much time spent in front of the television means children have no time for other activities such as exercising, studying or playing outdoors with their friends.

Studies have also shown that children who watch too much television can develop attention-deficit disorders. After the fast, energetic pace of TV shows, children often find it difficult to concentrate on more mundane activities, like schoolwork, for any length of time.

In our household, we only switch the television on when there is a programme that we particularly want to watch. This avoids the temptation to sit in front of it hour after hour and means that we socialise as a family instead. When my children do watch TV, I make sure it’s only for short periods of time and always check that the programme is suitable for their age.

No – Patrick
Television is a great educational resource for children. There are so many programmes that teach children about everything from history and geography to art and religion. They can learn about countries they have never visited and see how people live in different societies and cultures.

Television is also a great way to introduce children to different hobbies and can inspire them to have ambition in other areas of their lives. For example, at a young age I decided I wanted to be a chemist after watching science programmes on TV and my youngest daughter has started singing lessons after watching television talent shows. There may be programmes that promote violence but there are just as many that set a good example to children, encouraging them to work hard and succeed in life.

I’ve always believed that television prepares children for the real world too. It’s much better that they learn about things like bullying or drugs by watching television than by experiencing it in the real world without any knowledge of how to deal with difficult situations. If a character in a soap opera does something like stealing, parents can use it as a way to explain to children why this behaviour is wrong.

Like many things that get a bad rap in life, television in itself isn’t harmful, particularly if parents watch television with their kids. Restricting or banning television completely isn’t the answer.

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