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    An Argument against Television for Children

    By Seth Mullins     

    Studies have shown that in the past few decades, a significant number of American children spent more time in front of a television set than in a classroom. Many of them were free to watch without supervision; in fact, nearly a quarter had sets in their own rooms.

    Much has been studies and written about the effects of violent TV shows on the minds of young children. But what has not been scrutinized, as thoroughly, is the impact that even more innocuous programming can have upon the ways that they think and feel. The problem in these cases is not the content but rather the medium itself, which demands that they be passive while bombarded with imagery that they can neither respond to nor be given time to think about and assimilate. Essentially, the television set confronts them with another reality – one that is not responsive to them. It is a world they cannot enter, and where their action and initiative make no difference.

    Young children learn primarily through imitation and repetition. This is why routines and rhythm are so important in their early lives. They learn to trust their environment when it responds to them in consistent ways. Television programs confront them with images and sounds that bear no relationship to that environment.

    There are, no doubt, many television programs available – especially if one has cable – that are educational in nature. Even the majority of these, however, are more appropriate for kids in their teen years. Many studies made on child cognitive development suggest that too much stress laid upon the intellect can have an adverse effect upon their learning processes. For example, introducing them to reading too early can make them feel indifferent towards it later because they’d failed to connect with the joy of the activity. Children learn naturally by interaction, by actively participating in their environment. We can promote their development best by encouraging hobbies that will engage all of their senses. Too much TV watching conditions them to passivity – i.e., to a state of mind where they’re used to stimulus being served to them and choices being made for them. This exacts a dear cost to their budding imaginations and sense of initiative. Activities that draw upon the inner imagery of their minds – like drawing, painting, clay sculpting, handwork and (once they are in grade school) reading will be much more beneficial for them both mentally and emotionally. Artistic diversions teach children that what is inside themselves can be brought forth into the world. Electronic media puts them into a mode of passively waiting for the world to feed them more stimuli.

    Although it has been given the seal of approval by our culture at large, television can dumb our children down by substituting its images for their own inner ones and lulling ‘ their senses to sleep. The more we can curb our kids’ TV watching time and replace it with active and/or creative play the more their imaginations, reasoning abilities and spontaneity will flourish.

    Written by Seth MullinsRate this article:

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