Most parents complain about their kids being glued to the TV all the time. TV certainly becomes an addiction if not controlled but this holds true for any habit. Excess of anything is bad. So is with TV. TV viewing within limits is not harmful. In fact there are certain benefits of TV too as a means of entertainment as well as learning.
TV is commonly called as the idiot box. This is because of the fact that when we watch TV, the brain has hardly anything to do. Along with the audio, visuals are also there, so we need not exercise our brain to interpret anything. Everything is presented before the eyes. Obviously it makes us lazy, both physically and mentally.
But there are some positives too for the children, which should be reaped.
1. Vocabulary- Kids learning to speak learn new words from the TV programs. It is particularly beneficial for families which speak regional languages at home. Before a child begins school, he/she knows just the language that is commonly spoken at home. Exposure to languages, used for communication outside, through TV programs helps introduce the language to the child. It is easier for kids to understand the language as they can relate what they hear with the visuals shown.
2. Cartoons make learning simple- Children love cartoons. Many such programs like Dora the explorer, Perman, Hattori etc. are nice programs which tell about various things like good habits and morals in the form of simple stories. Because kids love these programs they understand these teachings too.
3. Wider knowledge- Channels like Animal Planet and Discovery show programs containing the wonders of our earth, which is to be seen to believe. Certain things like the life of wild animals is better understood through audio-visual method than through books.
TV viewing is a matter of habit, limits of which should be developed from early childhood.
• Fix the time and duration. Children should be allotted a fixed TV viewing time, when they are done with their regular studies and outdoor play. The duration can also be fixed, something like one hour in the morning and one hour in the evening, but not more than two hours at a stretch.
• Keep a watch on which programs they see. Programs which have too much violence or objectionable language should be avoided. Encourage good programs and explain the kids which type of programs are good or bad and why.
• Sit and watch children’s programs with the children. This way they not only enjoy more, they also get the message that it’s a good program that is why you too are watching. Secondly, as you watch together you can explain things like some new words or when some stunt is performed you can explain it to the child then & there that this is a dangerous thing.
• The child should be made to sit at least four feet away from the screen.
• The habit of eating meals while watching TV should be avoided.
• Indulge in hobbies- Indulge yourself in creative activities in your free time instead of watching TV. This way kids too will know that there are other interesting things to do too.
• Be a role model- If parents limit their viewing to only a few really good programs, kids too will learn to do the same. Little children fail to understand why they are asked not to watch TV while the adult members are always crazy for the daily soaps.