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The problem is heroes on TV often resort to violence and are appreciated for that, which generates an unhealthy connection between aggressive behavior and social gratification (Dowshen, 2005). Add to the violence, TV images showing illegal or problem-causing behaviors, such as abuse of sex and substances or smoking. Children receive a questionable education when they are witnessing, at a young age, explicit sex, drinking and doing drugs in detailed images. To support the idea that image has an immense power of suggestion and persuasion, studies have shown that "teens who watch lots of sexual content on TV are more likely to initiate intercourse or participate in other sexual activities earlier than peers who don't watch sexually explicit shows" (Dowshen, 2005).
And yet, violence isn't the only threat to children's normal development. Video games and TV can be damaging in other ways too. At an age when individuals should exploit their physical potential, modern youngsters are spending too much of their spear time indoors, watching their favorite shows and movies on TV or playing video games from dawn till dusk. This evidently has a negative impact on their health, not only because watching TV or playing video games implies sitting for hours in a row, but also because these passive, inert activities induce a tendency to snack (Dowshen, 2005). Health specialists indicated a clear link between excessive TV-watching and obesity (Dowshen, 2005). The lack of physical effort, the absence of outdoor activities lead to one of the most sever and generalized health problem that children now face: obesity. With it, come exhaustion, heart diseases, high blood pressure and other social and psychological effects with an extended negative impact on a child's normal development. Studies show that by reducing the time spent by children in front of "the screen," the tendency towards obesity decreases- gaining less weight and thus staying more healthy (Dowshen, 2005).
Exposure to marketing messages, such as TV commercials, is another reason to state the negative influence of excessive TV-watching. Even if, at an early age, children don't understand that ads are for selling products (Dowshen, 2005), the potential impact is to be taken into consideration. Commercials often promote products (fast-food products, toys, cereals etc.) with the intention of transforming kids into active consumers, keeping in mind that children are very easy to impress (Dowshen, 2005).
At this point, some authors state that there is not enough clear and undoubted data on how negative TV and multimedia exposure really is (Neergaard, 2006). Some researchers say that is not the TV or the video games that influence a child and future adolescent to act risky (sex, drugs, alcohol) or violent. They state that social interactions (family, school, peer-group) and personality structures are the key factors in explaining one's decision-making process and behavioral pattern. TV only triggers a violent or extreme reaction that was waiting to happen, that was already in one's personality, but in a latent form, arguing that it's all in the content and not all TV shows or movies are damaging- TV is potentially harmful.
One thing is for certain: the multimedia exposure has an influence on a child development, weather that's in a positive (learning language, understanding symbols) or negative (inducing aggressive, unbecoming or illegal behaviors, obesity risk, etc.) direction. Although, after closely assessing all aspects involved, it seems like the negative impact of excessive exposure is a more profound and permanent one, with consequences hard to predict and control. The abuse of TV or the abuse of video games is no different from any other kind of abuse (drugs, alcohol, sex), that means dangerous and destructive, especially to a child learning step-by-step how to become an accepted and appreciated member of a large group (society).
Barbour, W. (1994). Mass-media.Opposing Viewpoints. San Diego: Greenhaven Press.
Clarke, a. (2007). Television and Children's Development; How Bad is it Really. Retrieved February 19, 2007, from EnzineArticles Web site: http://ezinearticles.com/?Television-and-Childrens-Development;-How-Bad-is-it-Really?&id=193410
Dowshen, S. (2005). How TV Affects Your Child. Retrieved February 19, 2007, from KidsHealth Web site: http://www.kidshealth.org/parent/positive/family/tv_affects_child.html
Neergaard, L. (2006). The news for multimedia babies is good, and bad. Retrieved…[continue]
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