by the time children enter school, they’ll have spent up to one-third of their waking hours in front of tv. the enormous influence of television is just beginning to be realized. while many parents take television as an electronic baby-sitter, they neglect the fact that television may be more harmful than it is beneficial to children.
those who encourage small children to watch television claim that many programs for children on tv are helpful to develop children’s interest and enrich their knowledge. they also argue that preoccupied with tv programs, children are prevented from doing mischief. although at a first glance these arguments sound true, the behavior of some children doesn’t seem to prove them.
in the first place, programs for children are not always beneficial to them. one science fiction serial keeps telling about some supernatural beings who can fly and always fight against evildoers. after watching several episodes, a small child was so enchanted that he imitated the heroes and “flew” from his room on the second floor. there are also reports of children running away from home to the mountains to practice martial art. these incidents are naturally credited with tv programs for children.
further, being preoccupied with tv programs is not a good way for avoiding mischief. in the days before tv, parents used to gather together with their children, telling stories or reading poems to them. the communication between parents and children was thus better, so it was easier for children to understand what was good conduct.those who approve of children’s watching tv neglect television’s bad effects on children. firstly, children are surrounded and bombarded by of commercials for toys and foods. they are tempted into becoming consumers. they earnestly ask their parents to buy things which they do not really need. as a result, the parents are in a financial dilemma, and the children themselves always become victims of bad products because of false advertising.
another bad effect of television is that children are over-exposed to violence. they watch hours of murders, fights, and crimes every week, with no adult around to tell them that life is not like that most of the time. the effect of the heavy dose of violence is to suggest to children that violence is an ordinary way of life, and that shooting and cheating are ways to success.most serious of all, children who often watch tv are becoming passive. they just sit back and let things happen to them. children are inventive; they have the ability to imagine a whole world of their own. but what happens when their imagination is not needed, when tv does all the imagination for them? obviously, these children are not going to grow up as inventive and imaginative as their parents, for they have been robbed of creative impulses by television.
to sum up, children’s indulgence in television is harmful. the problem, nevertheless, is not one of prohibition. parents should supervise and guide their children’s watching tv instead of parking them in front of the tube, hoping it will act as a baby-sitter.