The Islamic Post Blog

Pediatricians Say: ‘Restrict Television Viewing’ by Khalida
December 8, 2012, 12:04 am
Filed under: 2009 June Vol. 1, World

June Vol. 1, 2009

By Laila A. Rahman

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that children under two years old be restricted from watching television, and that children who are older than two be restricted to watching one to two hours of quality programming per day.
Experts have assessed in two separate studies done by the American Psychological Association that some television programming is leading children into unhealthy habits and aggressive behavior as adults.
The first study –which was performed by several psychologists including L. Rowell Huesmann, Ph.D., Jessica Moise-Titus, Ph.D., and Leonard D. Eron, Ph.D of the University of Michigan– concluded that children identify personally with the characters they see on television and perceive the situations they see to be real. Researchers believe “violent situations that children are most likely to model their behavior after are [the] ones in which they identify with the perpetrator of violence, the perpetrator is rewarded for the violence and in which children perceive the scene as telling about life like it really is.”
The APA also believes that viewing such violence as adolescents makes children more prone to grow up as aggressive adults. The participants in one of the studies were interviewed again afterwards, and rated by their family members and friends, as to how often they would engage in aggressive behavior. It was found that men who viewed TV violence frequently showed to have pushed, grabbed, or shoved a person when they became angry at someone, and the women viewing similar material were found to punch, beat, or choke in situations where they were angry, both at a rate of approximately 4 times more than people who were not frequent viewers of violent programming. These same men and women were also found to have an increased rate of criminal convictions and moving traffic violations.
Researchers argue that the correlation between viewing violent material and the incidence of violent behavior is profound and underestimated. Dr. Huesmann’s research concerning this correlation concluded that, “It is more plausible that exposure to TV violence increases aggression than that aggression increases TV-violence viewing,” as well as: “For both boys and girls, habitual early exposure to TV violence is predictive of more aggression by them later in life, independent of their own initial childhood aggression.”
The American Psychological Association has also recommended that all advertising to children under the age of eight be restricted due to research that showed children under eight are not able to comprehend advertising messages like older children and adults do. Children under eight also accept advertising messages as truthful, unbiased, and accurate. Advertisers spend more than 12 billion dollars a year advertising such products as sugared cereals, candies, sweets, and sodas, an astounding proportion of which is focused towards this age group. Dr. Brian Wilcox, Director of the Center on Children, a key psychologist conducting the research, concluded: “Such advertising of unhealthy food products to young children contributes to poor nutritional habits that may last a lifetime and be a variable in the current epidemic among kids.” Foods high in sugar and lacking nutrition have increased the amount of children in recent years who are obese and also those who have developed diabetes.
There are, however, actions that can be taken, as parents, to stop these negative influences from impinging upon children. While many in society remain reliant upon television programming to occupy their children, persistent research conclusively shows that the most effective engagements for positive child development are intellectually stimulating activities away from the television.




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