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The television is held in high esteem by most people globally. Statistics by A.C. Nielsen .CO indicate that 99% of households in America have a TV, 66% of these households own three or more TV sets. An average American spends around 28 hours per week watching TV. ( Herr, N. 2007.)
The TV is a great invention; it has numerous positive attributes that have made it to be so popular. It provides entertainment, keeps us informed about what is going on around the world. It can be used as a teaching tool when educative programs are on .However, watching the television for extended durations can cause addiction and detrimental effects to a person.
In adults addiction to the television is known to result in obesity, laziness and in extreme cases acts of violence have been perpetuated by people trying to emulate the characters they have seen on TV. In children, the effects are more adverse and long term, as a result an estimated 4000 research studies have been launched trying to figure out the effects of the TV on children. (Herr, N. 2007.)
Development of a child
The development of a child is a process through which they get to learn and master new skills, such as sitting, walking and talking. These developmental milestones are achieved at predictable intervals. The child develops skills in five major areas of development namely;
The achievement of these developmental milestones is met with a lot of joy by parents and society since they are strong indications of a positive, healthy development of the child. Delay in the achievement of these milestones is a manifestation of a problem in the development of a child, and is enough reason for the society to start worrying.
Significance of drawing
To children drawing is more than just doodling over a piece of paper. To them it an indication of their imagination, identity and self expression. Thus it is of paramount importance for us to encourage them to express themselves through drawings. Furthermore, drawing is said to be the basis for other creative activities like painting, and it has a direct link to reading, writing and mathematics.
Drawing in children start at around 18 months, when they are still toddlers. They enjoy scribbling as it provides sensory enjoyment. They also get to practice small muscle movements and further develop their cognitive skills. Through drawing children manage to learn and master two developmental milestones namely cognitive development and fine motor skills development.
How the television affects drawing by children
The television is very entertaining, and if left unchecked children can watch it for extended durations. This cuts into time that could be used for other activities. Addiction to the television is known to cause the couch potato syndrome. This syndrome is characterized by the child watching a lot of television which results in inactivity in physical exercises such as walking or running. This leads to obesity since there is consumption of high energy foods, and inactivity. The body thus stores the food in form of fat. Drawing is a form of physical activity that consumes a considerable amount of time and energy. When children at this tender age weigh the options on whether to draw or sit and get entertained watching their best programs, they would rather sit and watch the television. Statistics estimate that an average American youth spends around 1500 hours watching television, but spends 900 hours in school (Herr, N. 2007.). From these statistics we can see that children place great preference in the TV compared to other activities, drawing is no exception.
Children especially from the ages of eight years and older get their inspiration to drawing from realism. How they depict the world or things to be. This stage is referred to as 'the stage of complexity and realism'. (Singer, G. and L.Singer. 2001) Children in this stage draw what they perceive to be true. The TV has contributed greatly to what children passive to be true or real. On average a child watches around 8000 murders before he finishes elementary school. By the time he reaches 18 years he would have seen 200,000 violent acts. (Herr, N. 2007). The viewing of these violent acts has resulted in 'a mean world syndrome'. Children who suffer from this view the world as an unforgiving, scary place, which is more dangerous than it, actually is. The perception of the world as a dangerous place by children makes them not to express themselves confidently. Due to this fearful imagination and self expression these children may shy from drawing.
Children tend to draw images from the great outdoors. A vast majority of the diagrams children draw show the sun, mountains oceans, seas, parks and lakes. The television glues children to screens and keeps them indoors for long durations. This has reduced the amount of time the children get to play outside where they may receive inspiration for their next drawing. When told to draw they may repeat the same images or worse they may not draw, because children mainly draw from memory.
Significance of reading
We cannot over emphasize the importance of reading to your child. In addition to helping children post good grades, reading enables them to learn new subjects and find vital information.
Reading is very beneficial to children especially because it encourages;
v Development of critical thinking, reading enables a child to open his/her mind to new ideas and information contained in books. As a child reads through books and articles he/ she tries to establish the validity of the information .By doing so he/ she encourages the development of critical thinking skills.
v Development of vital language skills, the more the children read the better they get at it. Reading familiarizes them to new vocabulary and when parents read a loud the children learn how to pronounce the words correctly.
v Opens up the world enriching the child's life, reading opens doors to any kind of information on any topic. Reading these materials leads to a better livelihood and future for these children.
v Reading provides a good hand eye coordination
v Reading is fun for the kids.
How the television affects reading
An estimated 54% of 4-6 year olds prefer watching TV than to spend time with their fathers. (Herr, N. 2007.) The statistics are scary by the very least. The television though termed as one of the best inventions of all time has managed to limit social interaction. To children the television is very entertaining, and if watched for long durations it may take the place of other activities, in this case it inhibits proper social interaction (Singer, G. and L.Singer. 2001). Parents are the primary caregivers to children and are the ones tasked with the duty of molding their children but since the television appeals to both parents and children they end up spending little time together. Thus the time spent on reading reduces.
Its common knowledge that a majority of the programs on air use improper language (Singer, G. and L.Singer. 2001). A very small fraction of these programs are rated 18 years and above. It's shocking to find a movie, warning about the use of coarse language and suggestive dialogue rated PG! When children read through the movies subtitles they pick up ill vocabulary and slang .The use of slang, misspelled words and abbreviations on TV may confuse the child and results in difficulty when reading. When the child experiences difficulty when reading he /she will tend to avoid reading.
Research has shown that people glued to their screens for long durations are likely to suffer from myopia, since they concentrate on near objects for long durations. Statistics from the U.S shows myopia increased from 25% from the early 70's to 41.6% between 1999 and 2004.This indicates that since the television became popular we have a rise of 16.6% in myopia cases (Herr, N. 2007.). A considerable percentage of the hike can be attributed to the television. Children suffering from short sightedness tend to strain when reading, this difficulty discourages them from taking time to read.
As the proverbial saying goes 'too much of something is poison' so is the case with the television. Excessive viewing by children may affect their psychological, physical and emotional well being. Drawing and reading are strong indicators of positive development in children, decline in activity of any is a major tell tale sign of a great impeding problem. It's clear that we need to monitor our children's TV viewing in order to craft a better future for them. The American Association of Pediatricians recommends no TV for children aged below two years and less than two hours of TV viewing per day for children above the age of two. Parents need to take charge, and be better role models for their kids. Children need to be shown that there is a fun in the outdoors not just in the TV.
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