We expose you some advantages and disadvantages of television in children, as well as some guidelines for making proper use of this means of communication.
Children spend a lot of time sitting in front of a television in their daily lives. Some do it accompanied by their parents and others, on the other hand, alone. This habit is usually very normal in most families, but did you know that television can influence your child? Do you know if it is used correctly at home?
Advantages and Disadvantages of Television
Many fathers and mothers are not aware that television can influence their children both negatively and positively. Therefore, it is important that we are informed to take full advantage of their benefits and avoid the possible negative effects that may have for the child.
Some facts about minors and television
The teenagers and children of most countries spend a lot of time in front of a television set, while they dedicate very little of their day-to-day activities to other activities. The second activity to which they dedicate more hours is to sleep, and they even spend more hours watching television than at school (Altable, Fernández and Herranz, (2000).
The children not only see the children’s programs that exist on television dedicated entirely to them, but also to others that develop at times that are not children’s. According to the AAVV (2001) cited in del Valle (2006) 40% of minors spend two hours a day in front of the computer, while 18% see it up to four hours every day.
Other studies such as the one presented in COMFER (2004) cited in del Valle (2006), based both on the social pyramid and on the economic pyramid, point out that it is not only two hours a day but three.
According to this study only 23% of children watch television two hours a day, while 47% see more than two hours and less than four hours. On the other hand, 23% are sitting in front of this device more than four hours and less than eight every day, while 7% see it more than eight hours a day.
But what can these figures be due to? According to the data presented in CIS (2002) 40% of parents buy their children from a very young age a television. So the ease that children find to watch television may be that they have their own in their room, this means that they can use it whenever they want without having to ask permission from anyone and therefore they do not can control what he sees or when.
Advantages and disadvantages of television in children
Based on the data that we have exposed previously, it is undoubted therefore to ask ourselves the following question: does television influence our children? and if so, how is it capable of reverberating in them?
Advantages of television in children
The television system gives us a multitude of possibilities that can and should be exploited by society. Next we will see some of the advantages that exist of television in children:
- It is a means of socialization . Television can be considered as a means of socialization, since it is able to compensate for social inequalities. It is also a transmitter of norms, values and concepts that makes it the third socializing agent behind the family and the school since it provides children with behavioral models (García, 2003).
- Acts as a source of entertainment and learning. There are many educational programs for children either formal or non-formal education such as: Dora the Explorer, The House of Mickey Mouse, Pepa Pig, Caillou … There are also channels specifically dedicated to children such as ClanTV, BabyTV and others. That is, there are endless programs that can help us entertain our children while they have fun and learn.
- Information function . Television allows people to express their views on a specific topic, so that in a subtle way our children can learn thanks to television. That is, it can affect the formation of beliefs, languages and concepts of a person, these are the tools that we usually use to interpret the world around us.
- Develop positive values . Given its programming dedicated to minors, television is also capable of developing positive values in them such as: friendship, solidarity, work, effort … Therefore, it can be considered an educational medium that helps shape the personality of the child ( del Valle, 2006).
- It allows to relax the children . Thanks to the television series or children’s programs, sometimes it can be easy to relax them because some incorporate songs that calm them down, or even allow them to get distracted and sit still.
- It provides a time of union in the family . It can be set as a rule to watch television in a time where all family members can, so that you can control what our child sees, this makes the bonds of union and communication in the bosom family.
Disadvantages of television in children
However, not everything that surrounds television has a positive effect on our children, because as you will know if they are not properly educated in their use it can harm them. Here are some disadvantages of the use of television in children:
- Abuse of television. According to the information we presented in the first section, there are many children who spend many hours in front of the television, either in the presence of their parents or alone. This can affect their development and create feelings of addiction, which when it is on television is called tele-addiction.
- Increase in violence. On television there are not only educational programs or children’s channels dedicated entirely to minors. There is a wide range of channels, programs and films that, among other characteristics, are known to be violent or present a high degree of aggressiveness in their content. Minors not only see programs according to their age, they also see this type of content that is not highly recommended and this can influence their behavior.
- Transmission of negative values for children. Previously, we have exposed that television is a source of learning for minors, however not always that training that transmits is appropriate. This can transmit to the children values such as: machismo, selfishness, which can get what they want with little effort or even take as models of behavior people or characters that are not recommended for their age.
- Children’s programs not recommended. Some children’s programs are also composed of violent and sexist scenes that can harm or negatively affect minors. Therefore, we must know the programs that exist as well as the contents that our children see.
- It can cause attention problems. Children are at risk of developing alterations in the development of care as well as delays due to a long exposure to television (del Valle, 2006). Therefore, it is important that they have a daily schedule that controls the time they spend watching television.
- A prolonged exposure can affect your studies. As parents we have to control the time our children spend in front of the television, since it can affect their school performance negatively (Rio et al., 2003). It is very common for children to spend many hours without supervision and forget that they have to do homework, or do not rest properly because they go to bed late watching programs.
- It can produce physical problems. Due to the great time we spend in front of the television we can present physical problems. According to the study by Gómez Alonso (2002), 17.8% of children who are usually active television viewers showed spinal deviation much higher than children who do not have the habit of watching so much television. This is due to the sedentary life that minors can have because of television.
What can we do to promote the correct use of television at home?
Here are some recommendations you can follow at home to improve the proper use of television:
- As parents it is important that we are informed and know the offer of programs that exist for our children and in this way to know which is the most recommended for their age.
- Watching television with our children is a good activity to take advantage of different programs you see and so you can get an idea of whether it is appropriate or not. This action can also help you to have a good time with him and to know his television tastes.
- We have to set limits to the time they spend on television both daily and weekly, since excessive use can adversely affect both physically and mentally as we have explained above.
- You have to turn off the television when you are eating and / or studying. If we eat with the television on, we will not favor family communication. Nor will we allow our son to study adequately if he listens to television in the background (Muñoz, 2004).
- Do not watch programs that are not suitable for the child at home. Whenever possible, it is important to prevent the minor from watching programs that are not according to their age. We have to remember that television transmits negative values and models of inappropriate behavior that the child can internalize.
- Do not use television to entertain the child while we are busy. Sometimes it is very common to use the TV to distract the child while we are doing other things, it is very important that we do not do this and get used to seeing it with him / her.
- Awaken interest in educational programs. Our children will see the programs that we see, so we have to motivate them to watch educational programs or teach appropriate values for their age.
- Explaining the difference between what is reality or not is a good way to make the child aware that not everything he sees on the screen is true. This will make the child realize that in real life and in difference to the fictitious, all actions have consequences (Silva, 2002).
- Finally, it is advisable that we discuss with our children about the advertisements they see on television so that they know how to identify the exaggerations that exist and the appropriate values or not they convey (Muñoz, 2004).
How can we verify in our daily life, television is the means of communication that is most accessible to minors in the home and therefore to society in general. Therefore, it should be considered together with the new technologies that have been developed today as one of the main agents that influence the lives of children.
We must keep in mind that it can influence both negatively and positively in children, that is, this means of communication has advantages and disadvantages in children.
However, on many occasions it is possible that we do not realize the disadvantages that exist with the use of this medium or the effects it can cause on the physical and mental development of our children.
As parents we must be aware of this information in order to educate our children to exercise good use of television and can be enriched by the many benefits it offers by creating or following, for example, some simple guidelines at home.