Influence of Television Programs on Children

Before there was television, children had options of playing outside, playing board games, or doing simple activities like reading or drawing. Now that TV exists to a high extremity, it has become apparent that nowadays these children shows have surpassed physical and intellectual activities and have now become a way of life for children. We now see children wearing clothing, playing video games, playing with toys, and watching movies featuring famous characters that started off as mere creations that starred on half-hour to one hour long programs.

Whether it is a positive or negative happening, children programming is becoming a global phenomenon affecting many kids around the world. The most relevant questions posed are how these shows affect children inside and outside of the US, and is this controversial issue affecting these children for the better or for the worse. It is clear that children within the United States have become indulged with computers, video games, and, most evidently, television. Nickelodeon in particular has been coming out with shows made just for younger children over the last decade.

An example of this would be “Dora the Explorer. ” As Dora celebrates her 10th year on air, ratings and sales show that this Latina is here to stay. In an article from Dayton Daily News in Dayton, Ohio, Sigal Ratner-Arias addresses this bilingual girl’s journey into the hearts of millions of children. Today, Dora is seen in 151 different markets and has been translated to 30 different languages. She appears in countries such as the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada and Ireland and teaches Spanish.

However, while this busy girl teaches Spanish to English-speaking countries, she also teaches English to Hipic countries (Ratner-Arias n. pag). “According to Nickelodeon, ‘Dora’ has generated over $11 billion in worldwide sales since 2002 having sold 65 million units of Fisher Price Dora the Explorer toys, 50 million books and over 20 million DVDs worldwide,” writes Ratner-Arias (Ratner-Arias n. pag). For originally being created as a forest animal, “Dora the Explorer” has become a global idol to young children (Ratner-Arias n. pag).

Another Nickelodeon star causing global waves is the sponge that lives in a pineapple under the sea, “Spongebob Squarepants. ” Martha Worboy, writer for The Gazette in Montreal, writes about the impact Spongebob Squarepants has had on children around the world. Since this show premiered in July of 1999, Spongebob has advanced himself to be seen in 171 markets and translated into 25 languages (Worboy n. pag). Along with many other shows, Spongebob has been seen in video games, movies, clothing, food, and seen in stores such as Wal-Mart, Best Buy, Kohl’s, and Radio Shack (Worboy n. pag).

Spongebob has sparked imagination amongst children around the world and continues to grow in popularity of all ages. Two other shows that have shown significant rise around the world are “Sesame Street” and “Blue’s Clues. ” According to an article from Melbourne, Australia’s newspaper, The Age, “Blue’s Clues” has been seen in 60 different countries and has been translated into 15 different languages (Dunn n. pag). Kids have the ability to interact with a guy named Joe and his cute, blue puppy, Blue. Along with Joe, children work to solve a mystery that Blue has laid out for them.

With this show, children have the ability to be entertained through interaction with an animated puppy that also stimulates their brain. Though “Sesame Street” has been seen for many years and is highly known, this show still continues to branch out more and more. This Day, a newspaper out of Nigeria stated that later this year, “Sesame Street” will be introduced as “Sesame Square” in Nigeria; however, with it comes a unique twist to the characters (“This Day” n. pag). This show will be hosted by two Muppet characters.

One is named Kami, a golden fur, girl Muppet who is HIV positive, and Zobi, a furry blue, boy Muppet (“This Day” n. pag). This show has drawn quite the anticipation in Nigeria and even allowed the Nigerian people to vote on a name for the blue furry Muppet (“This Day” n. pag). With the ongoing advancement of technology and improvement of shows made for children, it can only be wondered how long until the next animated phenomenon is created. Although these television shows have obviously been globalized, they also lead to the question of if the impact they have had on children can truly be een as constructive or harmful. Many people have questioned whether or not children shows are in fact engaging the minds of young kids and teaching them various ways to look at life or, in contrast, poisoning their minds and encouraging them into bad choices and presenting an overall negative effect on their life outside of watching the television. In a Boston periodical, The Jewish Advocate, Lauren Kramer views a theory brought by Dr. Kathy Hirsh-Pasek, director for the infant-language laboratory at Temple University.

Pasek develops the idea of the “Six C’s” which creates a recipe for success in young children. These “Six C’s” are: collaboration with others, communication, content, creative, and confidence (Kramer n. pag). Pasek goes on to discuss that none of these can be seen or adapted by watching television. She also states that while content may be seen while watching TV it is really just a quick fix and will not benefit children in the long run (Kramer n. pag). Pasek stresses, “We know young kids are better when they’re actively rather than passively engaged, and TV is passive,” (Kramer n. pag).

In this article, Pasek also determines that children under three years of age in no way benefit from television; even if it is “Baby Einstein,” (Kramer n. pag). Studies have also been conducted trying to determine whether or not watching television to great amounts is affecting the eating habits and psyche of young children. A study published by US Journal Pediatrics found that more psychological difficulties dealing with peers, emotional issues, and hyperactivity are likely to develop with children who spend numerous hours daily in front of television or playing video games (Yahoo!

News n. pag). Researchers studied 1,013 children ages 10 to 11 and had them complete a 25-point questionnaire, a self-report about daily hours watching television or playing games, and measured their physical activity using an accelerometer in which the kids wore around their waist for seven days (Yahoo! News n. pag). It was concluded that children spending two or more hours a day were likely to score higher on the questionnaire which indicated, “They had more psychological difficulties than kids who did not spend a lot of time in front of a screen,” (Yahoo! News n. pag).

Even if children are physically active but still spend multiple hours watching television or playing video games, they are still at risk for psychological difficulties. Researchers stress the importance of parents regulating how much these activities are being done to ensure their kids’ well being (Yahoo! News n. pag). A periodical appearing in Medical Post by Amber Lepage-Monette discusses Sonia Miller, a Harvard Medical Student, who conducted a study in 2007 which was a, “cross sectional analysis of children taking part in Project Viva, which followed more than 2,000 pregnant women and their offspring.

Data on diet and TV time were gathered for 1,203 three-year-old children,” (Monette n. pag). After this study was completed, Miller found that for every extra hour of TV the average child viewed per day, they were in taking 0. 06 extra servings of sugar sweetened beverages per day, 0. 32 additional servings of fast food per week, and an additional 48. 7 calories a day. This research also revealed that these children were consuming 0. 18 fewer fruit and vegetable daily servings along with 0. 44 fewer grams of fiber, and 24. fewer milligrams of calcium per day (Monette n. pag). Miller notes, “Previous studies revealed the association between obesity and TV viewing is not due to time spent watching TV replacing time spent being physically active,” (Monette n. pag). From this it can be seen that parents should be thinking twice before placing their kids in front of the TV for long periods of time. On the counterpoint, while there is a strong consensus that television has a negative impact on children, some say it is very much so educational and beneficial.

Amanda Dunn, writer for The Age newspaper in Australia, views opinions of various people about the effect of television on children. Mark Mitchell, star of an Australian show “Round the Twist,” states that while he enjoys engaging children in his show, he worries that television has and will continue to become a babysitter for kids (Dunn n. pag). Lee Burton, senior lecturer in media education at RMIT University Australia, strongly disagrees and, “thinks the babysitter argument is something of a myth, and believes that television is a fine educator and entertainer of children as long as it is regulated,” (Dunn n. ag). Even those that find television valuable for children agree that there needs to be some sort of limitation on how much kids are watching. After doing this research and viewing different perspectives, I find myself definite on what I believe is correct for children. I thoroughly believe that television is a necessity for children.

It enforces creativity and imagination and further emphasizes the importance of creating an individual within oneself. The various shows geared towards children do an exceptional job at giving them the break from the daily grind that I believe s needed even at a young age. Many shows that are made more for the audience of pre-teens to teenagers also do more than entertain these viewers but also relates to their lives by incorporating real life situations. For example, a show I have always been fond of is “Degrassi” which is a show filmed in Canada. This show follows teenagers that attend Degrassi Community High School and follows their triumphs, as well as their losses. Degrassi is ideal for teenagers because it allows them to relate to the situations presented as well as relate it to their own lives and where there is comparison.

In this show viewers have witnessed relationships, the reality of STDs, a school shooting, a murder, a suicide, and a school lockdown. It is because of me watching this show that I believe television can educate and enlighten as well as entertain. Every age group has a show that does both of these things for them. I also believe that there needs to be limitations on how often kids watch TV. Studies I have mentioned before show that there are many disadvantages and losses the children will endure if they continue to watch as much television as they have been allotted thus far.

People continue to say that they are worried for our generation in the future. Well now there is a simple thing that can be done to assist in shaping a better generation; it just needs to be embraced. Children do not need to be at a computer, playing a video game, or watching TV for more than an hour and a half daily. More than this limit will lead to more and more regression of the generation. Television shows have become a global phenomenon to children of all ages.

Clothing, food, games, toys, and many more can be seen surrounding children due to the popularity of these shows. As good as it may seem to be able to sit back and watch various shows at night, it has been proven to be bad for the development of children and worsen their health and nutritional stability. Whether one believes TV is a positive or negative occurrence, it cannot be denied that there need to be limitations on how much television children are engaged in daily in order to support children accomplishing their optimal well being.

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