Is Superman an actual person? That is what most kids ask themselves. When children see animations of cartoon characters hitting each other, will they try it on their playmates? This is what most researchers have been attempting to establish. The change of behavior of children due to what they view on the television. Television affects our realities in that it influences our behavior by giving knowledge to the outside environment. Todays children try to match what they see on the television with the actual world. Research shows that at the age of two children start to make distinctions between the real world and what they see on the television. Television simply stimulates children to distinguish between reality and fantasy. It is alarming how television is substituting parenting and companionship for most children. Research shows that in a single day, half of American children three and more hours watching television. This should be of great concern to all parents because children cultivate their values from what they see.
Studies have been done outline the different ways in which television distorts the reality of children. Studies have shown that majority of children who spend most of their time watching television are conformed to the worlds beliefs and assumptions on sex. Sexual images shown in most programs provide a clear field for children to experiment. The children also cultivate the notion of stereotyping. Televisions show depicts that the role of women as staying at home and taking care of the children and the home during that of men as ambitious and providers. This later cultivates issues on gender and racism in terms of sex. Most people do not believe that men are equals to women. Due to watching too much television, children end up believing that men were born with more ambition than the women. Women in television are cast as romantic and age faster than men. In at least two to three programs women are outnumbered by men. This creates an image that men are more superior and important than men.
It is agreed by most scholars that television has been a great source of most symbiotic images. Symbols and imagery shown on televisions impacts and shapes a persons perception and how they behave with others. In the last 20 years, most researches show that those children who spend more time watching television are likely to express the beliefs they watch to the society. Some of the beliefs may be controversial especially those about sexuality and religion. There are also some other beliefs that children adopt from television. For example those who watch television believe that chances of them coming across violence are high and exaggerated. It is argued that television performs the role of storytelling, tool for communicating values and beliefs of the children (Gerbner, 56). The researchers believe that this can be dangerous as often the television cultivates distorted behaviors and views of the world that are unrealistic especially the world of crime as well as violence.
Gerbner in his research gained a lot of evidence that the more time a person spends watching television, the higher the chance of reporting their perception on societal life. They also found out that television changes the way children perceive aging. Senior citizens are viewed negatively and in unfavorable ways. Another research done by Harvard, Showed that children are first introduced to people and the outside world through watching television. Most televisions are on during as a distraction to children that are active not knowing that the children can cultivate a lot from what they watch on television. Certain beliefs are also influenced by advertising done on most television sets. For example, there are those that believe that a certain medicine will cure a certain disease and that it has to be the only medicine. This is unfortunate because children when seriously sick may avoid taking medicines because of beliefs cultivated from watching television.
To conclude, it is vital for all parents to monitor and restrict the amount of time that children spend watching television. It is also important to regulate the channels and hours that children watch. A good example is locking those channels that show adults related programs. Other forms of activities should also be introduced to the children some of which are for cultivating good behavior. It is good to believe that television is far reaching and targets a large audience. More research needs to be done and parents ought to be made aware of the dangers of children spending so much time on television. As the saying goes work without play makes Jack a dull boy. Parents, let us be involved in nurturing our children and not relying more on mass media. Lets put into consideration the perceptions and messages passed through watching television and play our parenting roles of guiding our children. The society should also be the custodian of the future generation by the community engaging children in activities that build them other than pinning then down to the television.
Gerbner, George, and Nancy Signorielli. Women and Minorities in Television Drama, 1969-1978: A Research Report. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania, Annenberg School of Communications, 1979. Print.
Howe, Michael J. A. Television and Children. London: New University Education, 1977. Print.
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