For small amounts of viewing, achievement increased with viewing, but as viewing increased beyond a certain point, achievement decreased. That function was found for each of the 3 ages studied, but optimal viewing time -- the apex of the function - was different at each age and decreased with the age of the students. (Razel, 2001)
Research Showing Positive Effects on Children
On the other hand, there is some research that disagrees that television has a profound negative effect on a child's behavior, health and cognitive ability. This research does not support the hypothesis that television is bad for children. There is observation
Television and Children 7 research that shows that television can be a positive influence in a child's learning process. The television can inform, entertain, and educate children in many ways.
Even though there is an abundance of children's shows that promote violence and other generally un-educational topics, there are also shows that help literacy, cultural literacy, and educational process. These types of programming have a positive effect on children, because they not only entertain and amuse the child, they also educate the child and introduce him/her to a world of ideas and thoughts. Therefore, the positive effect of television for improving literacy, cultural literacy and education, outweighs the negative effects that violent and un-educational programs bring to children.
The ETS (Educational Testing Service) tested the effects of an Arabic speaking educational program called Al Manaahil (Murphy). More than 5,000 children in Jordan, Morocco, and Tunisia who saw this show were then tested to see what impact the show would have on their test scores compared to those who had not seen the show. The results of the testing showed a positive impact on children's reading, but the tests were not the only results that gave the show a positive rating. Teachers and parents also agreed that Al Manaahil had a positive effect on the children. The results from this study show that educational programming for children can definitely affect the literacy of children in a positive way. (Murphy)
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Television and Children 8
There have also been studies and case studies done on a children's television show a little more familiar to Americans, Sesame Street. In Educational Effectiveness of Sesame Street: a Review of the first Twenty Years of Research, Richard Murphy looks at the studies done over the first twenty years of the program. Even though there have been over a hundred studies done on this show, only sixteen are used because, "the authors provided data on some educationally related variable" (Murphy). The author's conclusion of his report is that "The story is a mixed one. There are studies that present results with little credibility. There are other studies that present negative results...On the whole, however, the studies with the strongest designs indicate that Sesame Street... had a significant positive impact on the pre-reading and school-readiness skills of children in the United States." (Murphy).
If children watch good educational programs on TV they can learn many new things. They can learn about places they have never been to and animals they have never seen and they could learn about new scientific discoveries. TV can be a medium for education. Therefore, television can positively affect the cognitive ability of a child. However, it is important for adults to choose the right TV programs for the age of their child. This way he/she can learn useful things. The right shows can help him/her develop his/her imagination. Good TV shows can also teach family values, such as Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman or the Ozzy and Drix cartoon.
In order to help control the effect of television on children, many attempts have been made to secure and monitor the programs that children are watching. With the Television and Children 9 recent invention of the V-chip, parents and educators are now able to control what children are watching on the television. The V-chip technology was designed to enable adults to block television programs and movies that they don't want children to see. All new television sets that have screens of 13" or more now have internal V-chips, but set-top boxes are available for televisions made before 2000. So how exactly does the V-chip work? It allows the user to program the television to display only the appropriately-rated shows - blocking out any other, more mature shows.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) requires that V-chips in new TVs recognize the TV Parental Guidelines and the age-group rating system and block those programs that don't adhere to these standards.
For many, the rating system and V-chip may be valuable tools. But there is some concern that the system may be worse than no system at all. For example, research shows that preteen and teen boys are more likely to want to see a program if it's rated MA (mature audience) than if it's PG (parental guidance suggested). And parents may rely too heavily on these tools and stop monitoring what their children are watching.
Also, broadcast news, sports, and commercials aren't rated, although they often present depictions of violence and sexuality. The rating system also doesn't satisfy some family advocates who complain that they fail to give enough information about a program's content to allow parents to make informed decisions about whether a show is appropriate for their child.
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In conclusion, much research has been done on the positive and negative effects that television viewing has on children. Some research demonstrates that television has a negative effect because children imitate the behaviors that they view on television. Children act out the negative behaviors that are viewed in violent movies, television shows, news reports and media. Research shows that children who watch television are more likely to engage in negative or violent behaviors in school, at home and in their communities.
On the other hand, some research demonstrates that certain television programming has a positive effect on children. Television programs such as Sesame Street, PBS, and some cartoons hold very high educational values and are positive influences on a child's cognitive skills and behaviors. This research says that if it is true that children model the behaviors and actions that they view on television, then by watching television shows that are positive and have a lot of educational value can only have positive impact on the child.
Finally, many steps have been taken to monitor what the child is viewing on the television and protect him/her from viewing violent or negative shows. The recent invention of the V-chip is a new technology that allows adults to program their televisions to only show certain types of programming in the home. The V-chip is being installed in all new televisions with a 13" or larger screen since the year 2000. The V-chip is working for the programs and movies that are rated, however, there are still Television and Children 11 many sporting events and news media shows that do not contain a rating and cannot be blocked by the new V-chip.
Children will always watch television. Rather it be negative or positive, television, like all other technology, will effect the child's behavior, actions and cognitive ability. It is the responsibility of the parents to know what their child is watching and to correct the violent or negative behavior when it occurs. Parents should teach their kids the difference between fiction and reality and teach them that the violence that they see on television is for entertainment and should never be acted in real life.
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1. Comstock, George A., Eli A. Rubinstien, and John P. Murray. Television and Social Behavior: Television's Effects: Further Explorations. Rockville, MD: National Institute of Mental Health, 1972.
2. Winn, Marie. The Plug-In Drug. New York, NY: Viking Penguin Press, 1985.
3. Children and the News Retreived July 26, 2006 at http://aacap.org/page.ww?name=Children+and+The+News§ion=Facts+for+Families
4. Razel, M. (2001). The complex model of television viewing and educational achievement. Journal of Educational Research, 94, 371-379.
5. Murphy, Richard. Educational Effectiveness of Sesame Street: a Review of the first Twenty Years of Research.
6. Gunter, Barrie, Charlton, Tony, Coles, David, Panting, Charlie. (2001) The Impact of Television…