Pre-school children are hard to deal with. They run around the house, throw food at you, fight, cry, and run away. All this has happened to me in my experience babysitting my dozens of cousins and siblings. I’ve found that sometimes the only thing to do in order to keep my sanity and to keep the kids alive is to turn on the television and let them watch.
However, as I’ve gotten older and started thinking about the fact that I will probably have children in the next five or seven years, I’ve started wondering how watching television affects little kids. Some of my friends won’t let their little kids near a television, while others limit time spent in front of a screen, and some let the kids decide for themselves. Too much television can definitely harm little children, as I’ve come to discover recently.
Too much television affects childhood obesity, which is on the rise in our nation. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, obesity in pre-school children increased almost 10% from 2007-2008 from what it was in 1976-1980. Obesity leads to countless social and physical problems, such as being made fun of by other kids and early onsets of disease. Too much television consumption can definitely lead to obesity for pre-school kids, because it takes away time they could be spending playing and getting exercise.
I will admit that television is not all bad. Shows like Sesame Street or Dora the Explorer can help kids learn more about reading, science, and the world in general. It’s the amount of time spent watching television that hurts children.
Another more subtle but equally dangerous detrimental effect of TV on children is related to the content of shows. The University of Michigan Health System says that too much television can cause behavioral problems, such as temper tantrums or aggression, in children. Even if a program is geared toward children, it can still have content which parents might not want their children to see. The University of Michigan says two-thirds of all television has violence in it, and children imitate things they see on television.
Too much television at an early age can also lead to tobacco use and sexual behavior among children, according to the New York Times. Of course, this activity would take place when children get older than pre-school, but early exposure to mature content on television can be partially to blame. A study by the National Institutes of Health also showed that too much media consumption can lead to using drugs and alcohol and not trying very hard in school. The more TV children watch, the more likely they are to be exposed to content that will hurt them.
All of this research makes it obvious me that too much television is definitely bad for children. Children need to get up and play instead of sitting in front of a screen all the time, even if getting up to play means painting on the walls with ketchup. The best thing to do, as a babysitter or as a parent, is to not be lazy and resort to television. Send the kids outside to play if they get too crazy. However, if it’s winter and too cold to go outside, I guess you should just buy some good cleaner to get the ketchup off the walls.