It is Sunday morning and you realize that your child has been in the process of eating breakfast for the past one hour lost in the world of television. Any prodding on your part to finish the same is met with an impatient response. Even at other times, the child is unresponsive to questions or conversations while watching television. There has been a perceivable shift in preference for television over other activities like playing outdoors or reading books. The list of favourite shows on television seems to be growing longer every week. Maybe it is the time you took notice of the fact that your child is slowly but surely on the way to becoming a television addict.
So, what is harmful about watching a few a cartoons and kid-friendly programmes? The answer could be more serious than you think.
- Physical Problems
Childhood is when the body develops and physical activities that the child indulges in play a huge role here. They need to walk, run and play. This exercise goes a long way in developing their immunity and maintaining their weight. It is a well-known fact that concentrating on the television screen for hours can damage their eyesight and lead to recurring headaches.
- Mental Problems
Television provides your child with a ready-made distraction on hand. This makes the child lose interest in all other activities. Like all other body parts the child’s brain also develops only when proper exercise stimulates it. Television watching does not require a high level of intelligence. The visuals narrate everything in a sequential manner which does not pique a child’s curiosity. Such children tend to lose the ability to come up with something to do, be creative, and relax their bodies and mind at the same time.
So what can you do to control this obsession before it becomes an addiction? Some simple measures could be the answer to this problem.
- Make watching television a family activity. Do not treat the television as a tool that can keep the child away when you are busy elsewhere. This will ensure that your child also does not use it as a negotiation tool for completing routine activities.
- Limit television watching hours to a set number of minutes and at a set time. This makes your child look at television as just another source of entertainment rather than the only one.
- Keep talking to your child about the programme, while watching the television. Teach your child to think critically and creatively about what the programme say, a cartoon depicts and not take the unrealistic actions in the cartoons seriously.
- Read to the child or play some games together. Giving alternates to television watching which are probably more enjoyable should be high on the agenda.
- Make sure you never completely ban television viewing altogether. This leads to resentment and maybe an aggravated yearning for it. A reasonable control works much better.
The good part of the problem is that, if detected early, it is something that can be handled easily. Fortunately, television happens to be a source of entertainment and information when used wisely. The trick is to use the television as a more useful rather than a harmful tool.