Our children devote much of their free time to watching television – seemingly captivated by the screen. Some of the parents do use television as babysitter too! The children have continuously contact with the screen, I do wonder how the television programmes influence the way they understand and interpret both the content and the world in which they live in. Although children have everyday contact with other media and many other forms of expression and communication, visual media alone are seen as speaking “universal language” accessible regardless of age. Hence, I strongly believe that television programme does influence on children’s attitudes, knowledge and behaviour.
Parents play an important to controlling children watching television. It is essential that parents play an active role in educating their children that television is only a form of leisure activity and they should not be addicted to it. Children can relax and learn through television programmes but parents should be able to select and filter the different programmes that are suitable and catered for their children. There are some programmes on television that give bad influence and wrong interpretation of reality, and that can affect the cognitive development of children. There are too many prejudices and stereotypes put through the media, which can influence what children see and think.
Watching too much of television can actually destroy a child’s communication, social skills. It can also affect the child’s emotional development. Through the screen, everything is visual and real. It is difficult not to believe what you see and thus, for children, when they watch television, they absorb everything that is being shown. Children learn through their visual senses and process it cognitively. If they were to watch non-educational programmes, there might be a tendency that the child would learn and mimic what he sees. Their communication and social skills is influenced by what they see and learn from the television. This can be rather unhealthy.
Many parents often question me why are their child shows aggressive behaviour so often in both school and home and that they are usually imitating the actions of the cartoon characters that they have watched in the television. Hence, I believe that this sentiment goes out to many parents with young children and pre-school teachers.
Through observations, I realised that many behaviours are learned quickly through observation and imitation of others rather than gradually through the shaping process. They observed what is being showed on the television and displayed this aggression to others. These aggressions are very common in our young children now. Thus, I strongly believe that television can largely affect the behaviours of our young children.
Adults’ attitude toward watching television is very important. We cannot simply use television as a source of babysitter for our children. Instead, they should use it as an educational tool for our children to take their step into learning like showing children educational programme like Shapes ABC, etc. Hence, as parents and pre-school educators, we should preview the programme before allowing our children to watch it. We can talk to children about what they have watched and share with them our own beliefs and values. It is our responsibilities to let our child know what is right and what is wrong!
Hence, caregivers should give them more opportunities of exploring and experiencing with the world instead of gluing them to the television. In order to prevent this aggressive behaviour, parents should really consider the type of programme they show to their child. Children use their five senses and movement to experience and explore the world that they live in. Hence, we should offer them with more fun activities rather than having them spending hours in front of the television.
Television does play an important role in our children’s life. It is a good tool for our children if we know how to control and make use for their learning opportunity. However, there are too many programmes on television that content violent which may leads to aggression in our children’s behaviours if we do not supervise them wisely.