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Television as a Babysitter

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The Impact of Caregivers Using Television as a Babysitter

Composition and Communication II Comm/156
August 19, 2012

The Impact of Caregivers Using Television as a Babysitter

Caregivers using television as a babysitter adversely impacts the growth and development, physical fitness, and social life of children. The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP) stated, on average a child in America watches three to four hours of television a day (AACAP, 2011). This happens in most households because caregivers tend to have children watch television to be occupied. The problem with this is children are not getting the interaction with others that is needed to advance their social skills. Watching television and not going outside to play takes away the ability to get in the required exercise that is needed, therefore, leading to childhood obesity. Working, busy, or unconsciously aware caregivers are letting children sit in front of the television hours upon hours to entertain themselves. Whether caregivers are using television as a babysitter so they can do other things, to take a break from entertaining children themselves, or as a learning tool; television should be watched in moderation because it impacts the growth and development in children. The first two years of brain development are the most important. This time period is when children are learning to talk and play. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) prefers interactive play for children two and under to learn from and discourages television viewing completely. For older children, the website of American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and www.healthychildren.org recommends viewing time to be “no more than one to two hours per day of educational, nonviolent programs, which should be supervised by parents or other responsible adults in the home” (www.healthychildren.org, 2012). With Internet, smart phones, and radio, available, television is one of the most influential mediums used today. Supervision is the key to getting the most positive influences from television. Television is a good form of entertainment and can be used for positive influences. For example, pre-school age children to learn about sharing, good manners and the alphabet. Grade school children could see and learn things about nature they otherwise couldn’t see, such as animals in Africa or the rain forest. Using documentaries for high school children to see political views from the past or learning about global issues would be beneficial as well. Television also introduces positive role models to follow. There is a wide variety of educational and entertaining things on television. The problem with television is it is so influential among children and can have negative effects on children as well. Children learn by seeing what others are doing on television and then imitating what they see in real life situations. Things children see on television affect the person they are to become as they get older; including their values and behavior. Children who watch violent cartoons more on a regular basis behave aggressively. (Hattemer, 1994). Some children may have difficulty comprehending the difference between fiction and reality. The website of www.healthychildren.org states that “Television teaches children the wrong things about violence. Adults know that real violence causes pain and sadness. But TV violence is often painless and sometimes funny” (healthychildren.org, 2012). Seeing a cartoon with their favorite hero fighting and making it seem acceptable and with no consequences encourages a child to fight and have no consequences for the wrong behavior. A child needs to learn the skills that allow them to socially interact with others in an acceptable manner, such as sharing, taking turns and helping. Using television as a babysitter with unsupervised programming, pass the recommended viewing hours will cause physical and social life issues. Numerous studies have shown that not getting enough exercise because children are sitting in front of a television can cause a child to become obese, have bad sleeping habits, and produce lower grades in school. Extended hours of viewing television will not give the children the time to get in the recommended amount of daily exercise to obtain a healthy weight. During the viewing of extended hours of television children are subjected to an alarming amount of commercials promoting unhealthy eating habits with sugary and unhealthy food. According to Chemin (2009) “Commercials for candy, snacks and fast food account for more than half of all food ads targeted to children and teenagers, and commercials for fruits and vegetables are virtually nonexistent ” (p. 30). Sitting children in front of the television with an unhealthy snack can add to the obesity factor as well. Caregivers need to encourage and implement good eating and television habits. Caregivers are the most important role models in the lives of their children. Various studies show those caregivers more active and doing outdoor activities children are close to follow in their footsteps and become more active outdoors. There are a large amount of alternatives for caregivers to encourage children to do besides watch television all the time. Limiting the viewing hours would give children the opportunity to read more which will help to produce better grades. Encourage children to go and play games outside, pick up a sport or hobby. If playing video games is what is acceptable as a reward, encourage exercise and fitness induced games on a limited schedule. Exercise is an important part of staying healthy and should be implemented whenever possible. Play some board games with them instead of sitting and watching television is a better idea. When children are watching television, provide access to age appropriate educational programs. There is a device that can be used to help control the negative material content on televisions. It is called the V-chip; the website of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) describes the V-chip as an installed feature that is equipped in televisions since July 1999, in models of thirteen inches or bigger (Federal Communications Commission, 2000). The V-chip reads an electronic code transmitted with television signals and is used with the current television rating systems. Caregivers can enter a password by remote which programs the television to which ratings are acceptable for children to view. The chip will block the display of unacceptable programming. The usage of the V-chip can be optional for caregivers to use (Figliola, 2005). The V-chip is a good feature to use for younger and older children. Take the time to discuss family values with children when inappropriate material is viewed on television. This will ensure complete understanding of right from wrong and real and fake. Another good idea for caregivers to utilize is to view programs before the children do. With the current technology of DVRs, prerecord some educational, developmentally programs for children to view. If access to a DVR is unobtainable DVDs are a good choice as well. Furthermore, treating television like a privilege can in return promote good behavior. Staying connected with the types of programming, the current program ratings and monitoring the viewing time, will ensure television will provide a positive influence and not be used as a babysitter. It is easy to let television babysit your child for hours because we live in such a busy society, but it is proven to be unhealthy. Children’s social lives are so greatly influenced by the programs seen on television, whether it be good or bad. The website of healthychildren.org states “By watching 3 to 4 hours of non-educational TV per day, children will have seen about 8,000 murders on TV by the time they finish elementary school” (2012, p. 2)! The impact of television on a child’s growth and development is so astounding; taking the precautionary steps to avoid the negative effects is absolutely needed. By letting children view educational programs, limiting viewing times and staying informed on what programs are watched, television can be used as a positive influence instead of a negative one.

References

American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. (2011). Children and watching TV. Retrieved from http://www.aacap.org/cs/root/facts_for_families/children_and_watching_tv
American Academy of Pediatrics. (2012). Where we stand: TV viewing time. Retrieved from http://www.healthychildren.org/English/family-life/Media/Pages/Where-We-Stand-TV-Viewing-Time.aspx
Chemin, A. (2009, July/August). Television Viewing and Childhood Overweight: Evidence and Explanations. Pediatrics for Parents, 25(7/8), 29-31
Federal Communications Commission. (2000). Retrieved from http://transition.fcc.gov/vchip/
Figliola, P. (2005). V-Chip and TV Ratings: Monitoring Children's Access to TV Programming: RL32729. Congressional Research Service: Report, 1-14. Retrieved from https://ehis.ebscohost.com/eds/detail?vid=5&hid=4&sid=6a3aeeaa-7543-4dc8-b88c-2059869b9f69%40sessionmgr14&bdata=JnNpdGU9ZWRzLWxpdmU%3d#db=tsh&AN=17703074
Hattemer, B. (1994, July). Cause and violent effect. World & I, 9(7).
Healthychildren.org. (2012). Pulling the plug on TV violence. Retrieved from http://www.healthychildren.org/English/family-life/Media/Pages/Pulling-the-Plug-on-TV-Violence.aspx?nfstatus=401&nftoken=00000000-0000-0000-0000-000000000000&nfstatusdescription=ERROR%3a+No+local+token&nfstatus=401&nftoken=00000000-0000-0000-0000-000000000000&nfstatusdescription=ERROR%3a+No+local+token

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