Thursday, October 18, 2012

Television: substitute for love?

“Come on, kids…its dinner time!”


“I don’t want you to say ‘no’ to the food…ever!!”

“Ok….but you have to put the TV on. Only then will I have my food.”

“No TV. “

“No food. I don’t want it.”

“Ok….just for some time…is that clear?”

“Ok, Mamma!!”

(Giggles around…)

These are usual negotiations at my home during lunch/dinner times. Kids just refuse to eat without the TV…either cartoons or some DVD… Although, as a responsible parent, I realise the ill-effects of television on my kids, I just fail to hold them back. Hence, I chartered out some rules. No TV during the rest of the day…only during the eating times. This has worked to a large extent and I hope eventually I should succeed in cutting on the TV time quite substantially.

My kids engrossed in TV :-(
Children have become much more absorbed in cartoons and comics over countless years and it has become a prime activity in some lives.  Normally, children begin viewing cartoons on TV at an early age of six months, and by the age two or three they become passionate audiences.  This has converted into an issue since too many children are watching too much television and the shows that they are watching (even if they are cartoons) have become ferocious and addictive.  The promotion of cartoons has become uncontrollable and overpowering.  This is ill-fated because children watch the cartoons on the television and they see material that is not suitable for their age group.  The Children who watch too much cartoons on television are more likely to have mental and emotional complications, along with brain and eye injuries and invariably the risk of a physical problem upsurges.

Mental and Psychological Effects of Children’s Cartoons

While we fight to tackle the issue of too much cartoon-ing that is being offered by our television channels, what the mainstream press avoids to discuss is the adverse effect of these cartoons on the young minds of our kids. Kids friendly channels like Cartoon Network and Hungama are no longer safe for the children with some of its precarious contents.  

If you have ever observed, our very own ‘Hero’ , Nobita, from the popular cartoon series, Doreamon, consistently  flops in school tests and do not secure beyond a big ‘zero’.  But the character is depicted in a way that in spite of a total disappointment at academics and being in confused state of mind at all times, he is always valued, loved and pampered by the cat-robot Doreamon. I was traumatized one day when my son proclaimed that he will try hard to get a ‘zero’ in his school-worksheets to seize an opportunity to meet Mr Doreamon. Instead of reacting aggressively, I chose to explain him how dumb Nobita is and how important it is to fare well in studies. It took me a heck of a will power to clarify to him how inappropriate Nobita was behaving and in real life it always scores to secure good marks in academics.

While we are at it, we cannot avoid the topic of cartoon related injuries. Each year, dozens of our lovely children fall victim to being instigated by the irrational and/or super power-driven characters. How many times will these small, innocent kids be hurt under the pretence of ‘having fun’? Whenever you Google some articles providing detailed case studies on the subject, the results found may be totally upsetting. But as a responsible parent, grand-parent or a guardian such articles are a must read.
TV’s effects on overall development 

With new TV shows produced to target children as young as 1 year old, it’s imperative to learn the effect of such shows on the brain development in younger children.
It’s proved by the Neuroscientists that environmental experiences meaningfully outline the developing brain because of the flexibility of its neuronal connectivity. Thus, the mental and emotional growth of the child can be powerfully obstructed by the continual exposure to any stimulus in the child’s surrounding. This can either be done by setting up a pattern (Habits of mind) or by denying the brain any other experiences. Suitable stimuli like close communication with affectionate caregivers; a developed, collaborative, human language environment; engrossing hands-on play occasions; and age-specific educational encouragement — enrich the brain's development. On the flip side, environments which encourage logical inactivity and hostile conduct (e.g., fierceness, brutality, anger) refrain the brain from participating enthusiastically in social interactions; creative and resourceful play and complex issue resolution. Also, pushing youngsters into academic learning, when they should be personally exploring the realistic world may risk in by-passing vital aspects of development.

Adverse consequences have been witnessed in today's schools, which seem to be associated with too much of the incorrect kind of media exposure. An "epidemic" of behavioural and social problems, uncertain academic capabilities, language hitches (which encompass to reading abilities as well as oral communication), and poor problem-solving abilities are testified by educators all over the world. Of course, parents' hasty lifestyles and socio-economic variations are partly responsible, but the growing research on television viewing obviously supports its significant role, with different children's tolerance thresholds varying widely.

There is no shortage of detailed research materials on how evil the television can prove to our youngsters. Yet, we don’t realise what it takes to switch off that idiot box and move out of that cosy couch. One cannot neglect the ill-effects caused on the eyes by consistent watching of television.  Some ophthalmologists believe that we don’t damage our eyes by simply using them however; some activities can really strain them beyond their threshold. In simple language, when one looks at an object for any length of time, the eye muscles are working hard. Hence, when you watch the television consistently, without moving your vision, the eyes can become really tense and tired. Solution? Extremely simple and do-able.  Just switch off the TV, get out of the couch and go out. Who knows, you may end up playing a football match, or jumping on a trampoline, or just strolling in the park.

Hence, it’s extremely important to control the usage of television in our lives. For children between the age of 1 and 5, just try and avoid it and restrict it in case of the older ones. There can be a mutually agreeable TV time, which if followed diligently, can help you bond as a family and have better lives.

So, happy controlled viewing!

Image Courtesy: Google Images


  1. The TV question is really hard isn't it? I watch very little of it myself, and luckily or me so does Caivalya, because he's a complete cricket freak and can spend all day playing cricket if I let him! But I know from experience the violence & bad language that kids' cartoons foster. Watching Chota Bheem with him really opened my eyes to this fact! In my eyes none of the cartoon characters are role models suitable for children...except perhaps Jerry...coz he's one hell of a smart mouse!! ;)

  2. 100% agreeable. TV is turning out to be a great risk for the kids..but the real question is - hos to refrain them from it when we adults are so much into it?