DEBATE: Would children be better off without television?

It’s It’s hard to avoid TV as a child these days. This is the 21st Century and most parents work about 8-10 hours a day, so a child is either with a maid or on TV. Just like everything else, too much of everything is bad but when a child is given the right amount of TV time, while watching the right programmes, they think better and quicker than an average child that doesn’t get a chance to watch TV.

TV boosts their minds

1443119455bucyana

It’s It’s hard to avoid TV as a child these days. This is the 21st Century and most parents work about 8-10 hours a day, so a child is either with a maid or on TV. Just like everything else, too much of everything is bad but when a child is given the right amount of TV time, while watching the right programmes, they think better and quicker than an average child that doesn’t get a chance to watch TV.

Researchers at the University of London found that children who watched three or more hours of TV a day were three months ahead of their peers who watched less than an hour a day, contradicting received wisdom that blames TV for diminishing youngsters’ brain power.

A child of three is more likely to remember something they watched than something they read in a book or heard from someone. Visuals speak louder than words. Exposing a child to visuals that can teach them something will educate, inform and inspire them. When my little brother was young, he watched a number of kid’s shows like Sesame Street that sang the alphabet and counted from 1 to 50 in form of a song that helped him learn some of these basics much faster and easier.

What we learn in class is only limited to the syllabus. With TV, children are able to appreciate nature through educational minded producers with shows and movies of rain forests, different animals and plants – showing the beauty and wonders of the world.

English is one of our official languages but until today, one could count the number of English speakers in schools and universities. Watching television gives kids the chance to learn new English words as well as conversational rhythms of spoken English. They say it is easier for a child to learn a language than an elder and in this day and age, we all know the unlimited benefits of being bilingual.

Television helps children to realise their talents. Three quarters of parents do not feel guilty about their child watching television and when appropriately managed and supervised, it can have a positive influence in a child’s life, according to psychologist Tanya Byron.

The report, Children and Television Today, surveyed 1,880 parents of children aged between 2 and 11, through Mumsnet.com, a parenting website. Freeview, the digital television service, commissioned the study.

The report found that 66 per cent of parents identified a positive effect on their child’s numeracy and musical skills from television.

One trick that a friend shared with me - if you think TV is stopping children from doing homework, how about you reward the child that has finished homework with some TV time. They will get to do the homework and also get to learn a thing or two from the TV show you have let them watch.

While TV is good for children, it must be properly regulated by an elder because children have young and innocent minds and the more positive energy they receive in their lives, the more positive they are in life, and the reverse is true. Show your child the right things and you will be surprised how smart they grow up to be.

patrick.buchana@newtimes.co.rw

Yes. That time can be spent on more important things

1443119392Nash

One of the funniest but also profound quotes I have ever read is by American actor Julius Henry ‘Groucho’ Marx who said “I find television very educational. Every time someone switches it on, I go into another room and read a good book.” Unfortunately, Marx died in 1977 and with him went most people’s interest in reading.

How many of us find it relaxing when our feet are propped up on the sofa, remote in hand and drink in another at the end of a long day? How many times have you actually switched on the television to keep your young ones busy as you go on with your house chores or squeeze in another hour of sleep? There is nothing to be ashamed of. The world is moving very fast and there is so much to do but very little time. That said, there are other ways to distract children and put the time they spend watching music videos and other useless programmes to good use.

Have you tried to introduce a book or newspaper reading culture in your home? If you haven’t, then maybe this is the time. Do your children just watch television and when it is the news-hour, they just walk out till you are done?

Maybe your youngsters should come with you to the kitchen and learn something about making a meal; perhaps your son should get some paint and learn how to paint a wall. Before you send the housemaid to tidy your daughter’s room, pause a little and ask yourself how much good it would do your child if she knew how to keep her room organised instead of sitting in front of a television hours on end.

I think that it is important to give our children’s creative juices an opportunity to flourish and an environment that is perpetually always switched on impedes this.

In the past, each country in East Africa had one operating television station, whose programme lineup included one hour of cartoons for children. The older ones watched usual television programmes which thankfully required no parental guidance.

Today, there are many stations, some even dedicated only to children, thanks to pay TV but somehow, this has made things hard. Once your youngster has a remote in their hands, there is little control you can have over what they watch.

There is the issue of sexual content on television. There are music videos that I have watched on local television, especially on weekends, and wondered if the programme directors have any idea who their viewers are. The nudity and sex simulation in some of these programmes is sickening. What people tend to forget is that while some of this content of simulated sex glamorizes sex, it doesn’t depict the negative outcomes of sexual behaviour, such as unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases that children may imitate what they see in order to feel older.

Television entertains and informs, that’s a fact and if done in moderation, it is fine. What we cannot close our eyes to is that there are more programmes that are aired that have an undeniably negative influence on childhood behaviour and values than those that help improve them.

nash.bishumba@gmail.com

 

Have Your SayLeave a comment