The Effects Of Television On Americas Youth

Essay, Research Paper Our generation has been raised in a technological advanced world and there has been definite controversy over many of these innovations that this new culture has brought. An innovation that has troubled the youth of America for many years is television. Although there is no certainty to eliminate this plug-in drug, there are many ways to control and monitor your television as a parent.

Essay, Research Paper

Our generation has been raised in a technological advanced world and there has been definite controversy over many of these innovations that this new culture has brought. An innovation that has troubled the youth of America for many years is television. Although there is no certainty to eliminate this plug-in drug, there are many ways to control and monitor your television as a parent.

Children between two and eleven years of age watch an average of 25 hours of television a week.(Children s Television) Which means that children spend more time watching television than in school. With that statistic it is no wonder why this is such a huge problem that this nation has to deal with.

There are many facts that show how children are effected by television. The most obvious is the effects that television has on the brain. Television interferes with the development of intelligence, thinking skill and imagination. (LimiTv) A huge element of thinking is taking from what you already know and deciding how it applies in different situation. School makes you do this, but television does not. Michael and Sheila Cole, sociologist, say that Children socialized to learn from television had lower than normal expectations about the amount of mental effort required to learn from written texts, and tended to read less and perform relatively poorly in school. (Development of Children 24) Which means that it takes very little effort to follow a television show and kids are raised on television believe that it takes less effort to learn from television rather than books because they have been spoon-fed information by television. Opportunities for a child s imagination to develop are also denied by habitual viewing. (Neural Activity and the Growth of the Brain) Children need some unstructured time to

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allow imagination skills to form by thinking about a book or story, a conversation, or an event.

Television also conditions a child to dual stimui: sound and images. (Neural Activity and the Growth of the Brain) The constant and rapidly changing sound and images can condition a child to expect the level of televisions in other situations. The problem with this is that in school children are called upon to speak, to listen, to work some problems, or read, and none of these tasks contain the dual stimula that children expect from television. Dr. Hinton, a professor, said, One of the main reasons professors introduce multimedia (sound and images) segments into lectures is to retain the attention of the television-raised students. A chalk-on-the-board lectures leaves many students unable to remain attentive.

Watching television also impedes the growth of longer attention spans. (Neural Activity on the Growth of the Brain) As with conditioning a child to the sound and images of television, the seven-minute length of programs before a commercial interruption can condition a child to a seven minute attention span. (The Wall Street Journal) Odds Bodkin, a professional storyteller, relates to this theory. He performs before 10,000 children a year. In 1994 Bodkin stated, After about seven minutes restlessness sets in as their inner clocks anticipate a commercial break. This is also a factor in school because when a child s attention span is not up to there own grade level than it decreases they re learning ability. Schools expect kindergarten through second graders to have short attention spans, but also expect attention capability to increase with grade level. When that doesn t happened children is disadvantaged. A student who,

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Month after month, is inattentive in class may well find it difficult to learn the material being presented.

Television also interferes with the development of reading skills. A child must learn to move the eyes back and fourth across the page in order to read. (The Development of Children 63) But with television, the eyes are fixed on the screen. One hour a day in school learning to move the eyes back and forth cannot compete with four or more hours with eyes fixed on a television screen. It s little wonder that many children find difficulty learning to read.

Another effect that television has on children is it decreases the time for children to develop speaking skills. Children may hear new words on a television show, but this is not the same as speaking. (Journal of Communication 66) If children are watching television then they are not spending time talking. Children usually learn to speak by first words and then by short sentences. Reading to a child, and speaking to a child, helps the development of speaking skills. A child spending four or more hours a day watching television loses the time needed for conversation, and may well find difficulty becoming articulate and fluent, and be less able to speak and write in complete sentences. (Journal of Communication 67)

Another major factor that has been looked at which has effected children greatly due to television is ADD (attention deficit disorder) and ADHD (attention deficit hyperactive disorder). There is enough research to suggest that not letting children under the age of five to view television in significant amounts will lessen the chance he or she will develop ADD or ADHD. Research findings on attention deficit disorder and

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Attention deficit hyperactive disorder can be found in the medical literature. This is due to the rapidly-changing sound and images that may overwhelm the nervous system of some young children and lead to hyperactive behavior and attention deficits. (The Development of Children 124) John Rosemund, the author of the article ADD is Real, and Misunderstood, stated that Wiring of the brain establishes neural pathways during the formative years appears strongly influenced by the child s environment. If a toddler is deprived of the appropriate stimuli, certain areas of the brain may not develop as fully as they could. Hours of television each day from three months of age on may limit the intellectual development of a child. (The News & Observer)

Although there are many reasons that television effects children the most influential outcomes are the outcomes that the children pick up in the programs themselves and use them in society. Television provides children with a powerful set of standards for behaviors. The child audience is uniquely vulnerable to televised presentations, particularly those in programming directed at children. What children see on television can lead to the learning and performance of similar social behaviors. The role television plays in the development of a child had been one of the most extensively examined areas of mass communication research. Although the effects of specific media content on the child viewer are complex, recent research has provided evidence of a casual relationship between children s perceptions and exposure to television programs. (Images of Life 19) One of these research studies was conducted in 1972 by Lyle Hoffman in which they asked third graders if they ever copied what they saw on television, and more than 60 percent of the students answered that they did. This goes to

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prove that even if the children know that they are following what they see on television that they do copy and portray the images they see. Think of all of the negative images children see on television they act upon because they think it is all right to do so. Exposure to stereotyped presentations can easily influence viewers behavior toward unfamiliar people. Viewers use what they learn from these television images to establish new norms for how they will act in certain situations. (Effects of Television 24) For example, there are too many television shows that base around killing and violence. This would prove to the child that there is nothing else to base killing on. This goes into the child s brain and they start to think that killing or fighting is all right and in normal in society. Children will start to believe that the world revolves around television. They believe that anything not on television is not of any importance or reality. (Effects on Television 25) Think about it, how many times do you see an African-American, a Mexican, or an Asian. That s right none. This reflects on the child to this that these people have no importance to society and that is one of the ways racial issues are rooted.

There have been many events that have happened in our society to prove that television has a drastic effect on the youth. The most famous event happened in Moraine, Ohio in October of 1993. A five-year-old boy set fire to his family s mobile home killing his two-year-old sister, Jessica Matthews. The mother of the six-year-old said the boy lit the fire after watching Beavis and Butt-head, a cartoon about two adolescents with a taste for pyrotechnics. This tragedy shows that television programs have influences on the minds of children. Even teachers are seeing this ripple effect of television effecting students in school as well as at home. Doug Hallstead, a Grade 2 teacher, sees those effects every

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day in the schoolyard. I haven t seen Red Rover or tag on the playgrounds for years, says Hallstead.(Maclean 36) The standard now is play fighting, often with kung-fu moves. But the real lowering of empathy is when the students standard line is I was just joking when I kicked him. (Maclean 36) Even more disturbing for Hallstead is what happens in the classroom. If we re talking about the Second World War and we mention something violent, there are always a few boys who will go, Yeah, right on. (Maclean 37) The list goes on and on of horrific stories that have happened in our society due to television.

There is no way to shut off television as a whole. Televisions will always be around it is part of our culture and it is too big of a moneymaker for television programs to stop. Let s face it the only true way for television to not effect our kids is plain and simple. Don t own a television. But the fact of that is not in your favor, about 95.5 percent of Americans own at least one television in there house.(Taming the Wild Tube 4) There is new ways to control your television programs, such as the V-chip. The V-chip is planned to come out in September in Canada and will allow parents to screen out violent programming, which is a good start to in the battle for the minds of their children.(Maclean 39) But the only way to turn the tube around is you, the parent. There are many ways to getting around this problem. Designating a Television Turn-Off Week can be an effective and enjoyable way to jump-start a change in your family s television viewing patterns. It can also be a wonderful chance to explore new ways for your family to share time and activities together. Critical to the success of a television turn-off is how the idea is how the idea is initially presented. Marie Winn, the author of

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Unplugging the Plug-In Drug, offers some guidelines. In two parent families, both adults should be in agreement regarding television. Many attempts to the turn-off fail because each parent has different opinions, sending mixed messages to the children. Confidently present the idea of a turn-off, giving all the reasons you think is worthwhile. Make straightforward deals If you ll do this, I ll do ). And even if you can t get outright participation, try for a show of solidarity in front of the children. Presenting the idea to pre-school children and toddlers does not require advance discussion. In most cases, all that is needed is a matter of fact statement that we will not be watching television this week. Also, getting company for you television turn-off is valuable. Support from friends and neighbors, as well as teachers and classmates can be a great help. A turn-off is more enjoyable if other families are involved. During this turn-off time you will find that your kids, as well as you have, a lot of more time on your hands. During this time that your children are not watching television there is many enjoyable activities that your children will find fun and that are educational as well, see appendix. These great ways to have fun with your children are a great alternative to television and your children will love these games also.