Parent homework: Critical television watching with your children

28 Jan

Let’s make this short and sweet. Park your kid in front of the television and you will probably be raising an overweight idiot. Tara Parker-Pope has a great post at the New York Times blog. In the post, TV For Toddlers Linked With Later Problems Parker-Pope reports:

Toddlers who watch a lot of television were more likely to experience a range of problems by the fourth grade, including lower grades, poorer health and more problems with school bullies, a new study reports.
The study of more than 1,300 Canadian schoolchildren tracked the amount of television children were watching at the ages of about 2 and 5. The researchers then followed up on the children in fourth grade to assess academic performance, social issues and general health.
On average, the schoolchildren were watching about nine hours of television each week as toddlers. The total jumped to about 15 hours as they approached 5 years of age. The average level of television viewing shown in the study falls within recommended guidelines. However, 11 percent of the toddlers were exceeding two hours a day of television viewing.
For those children, each hour of extra TV exposure in early childhood was associated with a range of issues by the fourth grade, according to the report published in the May issue of The Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine. Compared with children who watched less television, those with more TV exposure participated less in class and had lower math grades. They suffered about 10 percent more bullying by classmates and were less likely to be physically active on weekends. They consumed about 10 percent more soft drinks and snacks and had body mass index scores that were about 5 percent higher than their peers. http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/05/05/tv-for-toddlers-linked-with-later-problems/?_php=true&_type=blogs&src=me&_r=0

Well duh, people. You probably already knew this. Guess why you have feet attached to your legs? So, you and the kids can walk around the neighborhood and the park. Better yet, why don’t you encourage your children to play. https://drwilda.com/2012/09/16/play-is-as-important-for-children-as-technology/

Sierra Filucci wrote in the Common Sense Media article, Yes, You Can Make TV Time Count:

Here are some realistic conversation starters to keep in your pocket for when the show ends:
Ages 2-4
Watching TV with kids ages 2-4 is less about delving into provocative topics than it is about reinforcing shows’ positive social messages and lessons.
Ask:
•How did that song go again? Let’s sing it together.
•What were the colors of the rainbow the kids saw?
•How many balloons did the girl have?
•Why were the characters happy/sad/mad?
Ages 5-8
Kids in the 5-8 age range start to see a lot more action and interpersonal conflict, though many shows targeted at this age portray positive resolutions. Asking kids to relate what they see to their own experiences helps the positive lessons sink in. Also, anything that can help kids start to be more media savvy is a good thing.
Ask:
•How did the characters work out their problem?
•Did the characters do something you wish you could do?
•Who were your favorite characters, and why?
•Do the boy characters dress differently than the girl characters? Why?
•What made the show more exciting/scary/funny?
Ages 9-11
As kids get a little older, they’re more curious about the outside world and are figuring out how people relate to each other. Kids this age can be very receptive to age-appropriate guidance, and using TV as a jumping off point can be a super-helpful tool.
Ask:
•What was the consequence for that character’s behavior?
•What tools did the character use to resolve that conflict?
•What makes that character appealing? Or not?
•Did anything in this show surprise you or teach you something you didn’t know?
•Does this show intend to teach something or get a certain message across?
Ages 12-14
As kids enter the teen years, watching TV together can get a little hairy. They’re interested in pushing boundaries, and you might have to talk about exactly why certain shows are off limits. But even controversial TV can be an opportunity to get conversations started and gain some insight into your kid’s social life and inner thoughts.
Ask:
•Does that situation seem realistic?
•Do any of your friends act like that?
•What would happen in real life if someone acted that way?
•Do any of these characters seem like “types”? Why do so many shows repeat the same stories or create such similar characters?
•In reality shows, what do the participants stand to gain or lose by appearing on the show?
http://www.commonsensemedia.org/blog/yes-you-can-make-tv-time-count?utm_source=012314_Parent+Default&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=weekly

The issue is whether children in a “captive” environment have the maturity and critical thinking skills to evaluate the information contained in the ads. Advertising is about creating a desire for the product, pushing a lifestyle which might make an individual more prone to purchase products to create that lifestyle, and promoting an image which might make an individual more prone to purchase products in pursuit of that image. Many girls and women have unrealistic body image expectations which can lead to eating disorders in the pursuit of a “super model” image. What the glossy magazines don’t tell young women is the dysfunctional lives of many “super models” which may involve both eating disorders and substance abuse. The magazines don’t point out that many “glamor girls” are air-brushed or photo-shopped and that they spend hours on professional make-up and professional hairstyling in addition to having a personal trainer and stylist. Many boys look at the buff bodies of the men in the ads and don’t realize that some use body enhancing drugs. In other words, when presented with any advertising, people must make a determination what to believe. It is easy for children to get derailed because of peer pressure in an all too permissive society. Parents and schools must teach children critical thinking skills and point out often that the picture presented in advertising is often as close to reality as the bedtime fairy tail. Reality does not often involve perfection, there are warts.

Parents must interact with their children and read to them. Television is not a parental substitute.

Related:

Study: Children subject to four hours background television daily https://drwilda.com/2012/10/02/study-children-subject-to-fours-background-television-daily/

Common Sense Media report: Media choices at home affect school performance https://drwilda.com/2012/11/01/common-sense-media-report-media-choices-at-home-affect-school-performance/

Tohoku University study: Excessive television watching changes children’s brain structure https://drwilda.com/2014/01/12/tohoku-university-study-excessive-television-watching-changes-childrens-brain-structure/

Where information leads to Hope. © Dr. Wilda.com

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