Television and Children

Movie night around our house is a very big deal. It’s a big deal because it’s the only television that my stepdaughters, Serena (eight years old), and Ari (six years old), are allowed to watch. It becomes an event rather than an every day happening. Makes it even more special. My wife, Jesseca, is very adamant about this and I totally agree with her. Even we watch very little television, on average about two nights a week for an hour each.

So what’s the big deal about children watching television? After all, it’s a great babysitter, frees the parents up to do other things, and keeps the children pacified for a few hours. Parents and children can even share some programming. And after all, most of us were brought up watching a few hours of television every day, and look how we turned out. (Well, that last point may not be the strongest argument, but you get the picture).

The television has become so central to our way of life that for some , its inconceivable to limit the amount of time spent in front of this electronic eye. There are so many choices as to what to watch and as streaming video becomes more available you can even watch all sorts of programs via your computer.

TV isn’t inherently bad or evil. Like many things, it’s how we use it that determines its effects on us. One study of British school children concluded that more than two hours a day in front of a TV or computer was associated with more emotional and behavior difficulties. Other studies show that the average American watches nearly five hours of TV every day, which serves as a model for children and teenagers as well.
One of the more insidiously harmful effects is when a child or teenager has a television in their own room. Researchers are finding that when this is the case it can contribute to a number of health and educational problems. Children with TVs in their bedroom score lower on tests, are more likely to have sleep problems, to be overweight, and more likely to eat junk food.

Dr. Aric Sigman, a British psychologist, has discovered that watching TV changes your brain chemistry as well as other physiological changes. It has not as much to do with the content as the act itself of staring at a TV or computer. Your brain is forced to process information differently, and since it produces a hypnotic effect, it literally numbs areas that could be stimulated by other activities, such as reading. The more you watch, the more you become passive and receptive, which is of course what every advertiser counts on.

Dr. Sigman has identified a number of consequences associated with watching television, including but not limited to obesity, difficulty healing, heart trouble, decreased metabolism, damaged eyesight, decreased attention span, sleep difficulties, limited brain growth, and hormone disturbances. Let alone the assault of advertisers and violent and sexually explicit programming.

So please do limit your own and especially your children’s television viewing. If you agree you watch too much TV, turn it off and participate in other activities, the root word of which is active. It may take some time and effort to redirect everyone’s attention to other things, and children may fuss, but in the long run, both parents and children will benefit.


Steven F.
Steven Farmer6 years ago

Thanks for all your comments. Television and computers have become such a dominant force in our lives that it's refreshing to hear how so many have consciously decided to limit their interaction with these. There's a three dimensional world both inside our homes and in the world outside and we're designed to interact with our community of friends and family as well as that world, rather than the two dimensional world of television and computer screens. There's nothing inherently wrong about these, but an increasing body of research supports the idea of limiting our use of these devices, especially for children.

Joe Shults
Joe S6 years ago


Holly Lawrence
Holly L6 years ago

TV can be very informative for children andused as a education aid! the problem is thekids and the TV it's the parents who need to supervise andnot use the TV as a babysitter! just taking TV away or only allowing one night a week is not the answer!


peggy p.
peggy p6 years ago

so agree with this. children and adults can play, read, etc, so that they are healthier and can get outside for some of it

Lu Ann P.
Past Member 6 years ago

We watch tv. Mostly we watch PBS and DVDs but not exclusively. It is somewhat educational, but primarily entertaining. I enjoy tv and my kids enjoy tv.
Having said that we are not glued to the tv set. We balance our world on our own lives and interactions. TV is not a constant background noise.
Balance. That's what its all about.

Craig Zimmerman
Craig Zimmerman6 years ago

I often hear defenders of television say that it is a great teacher, but there is little actual evidence to support that assumption. I find TV repetitive and boring and I get more information from reading and good conversation.

Craig Zimmerman
Craig Zimmerman6 years ago

Television not only desensitizes children to horrible acts of cruelty and violence, it also robs a family of time that they could be spending together.

Nessie Benjamin
Nessie B6 years ago

My mother was angry when my step-father brought home a television in 1953. We weren't allowed to watch much because the television was in the livingroom and the livingroom was off limits. Reading was more important in our family, so we didn't grow up watching a lot of the programs that seem to be common cultural currency references these days.

Even as a young adult, I didn't watch TV - didn't own one. One of my greatest pet peeves was when my 1st husband would come home after work, turn off the classical music I was listening to, and turn on the TV.

That said, I am currently weaning myself off television because when I retired 3 years ago and started my B&B, I put a TV in the kitchen and became addicted! I watched hours of the most fascinating programs, mostly on the BBC. I realized, however, that it took me far longer to finish my work, so now I watch the news program in the morning and then turn it off. Evenings are still a nightmare, but I'm working on it.
Still, reaching the age of 65 without 'Twilight Zone' and 'Upstairs, Downstairs' I consider a blessing!

Berny P.
berny p6 years ago


Rebecca S.
Rebecca S6 years ago

as a kid raised on TV...I hope to never raise my child that way...and many of my friends agree