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Essay: Does the excessive viewership of television by children aged between 2-3 years old affect their long term cognitive development

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Life Orientation Research Task final proposal.
Focus Question: Does the viewership of television in excess of 2-3 hours of the recommended 2 hours of television, for children aged between 2-3 years old affect their long term cognitive development.
The aim of this research task is to look at the problems posed by the excessive viewership of television by children aged between 2-3 years old, as well as to find out if there are any detrimental effects on their cognitive development. The findings represented in this task would be attained through secondary research; I hope to find out how television can be very detrimental to young children, especially those going through the most important stages of their early development.
I believe that the topic of the exposure of children to television is relevant as according to, (Christakis et al., 2013) preschool children watch four to five hours of television. Therefore it is important to know how this much TV affects children in the short term and if it has any long term effects on their cognitive development.
Literature Review
Source 1:
Dr Linda S. Pagani, Caroline Fitzpatrick, and Tracie A. Barnett of the Universit?? de Montr??al and its affiliate Sainte-Justine University Hospital Research Centre in collaboration with Eric Dubow of the University of Michigan. ‘Toddlers and TV: Early Exposure Has Negative and Long-Term Impact’. (2010) http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/05/100503161229.htm (2014/01/03)
This source is an article on the effects of television on the long term effects of television on the early development of toddler’s, outlining the results of a study done by the Universit?? de Montr??al, the Sainte-Justine University Hospital Research Centre and the University of Michigan.
The aim of the study undertaken by the universities was to determine the future impact of TV exposure at the age of 2 on the future academic success, lifestyle choices and general well-being of the children. It was found that even incremental exposure to television affected development. 1 344 children took part in the investigation as part of the Quebec Longitudinal Study of Child Development Main Exposure. Parents were asked to report the amount of television viewed at 29 months and 53 months. Teachers were asked to evaluate academic, psychosocial and health habits. BMI (body mass index) was measured at the age of 10.
According to the investigation, watching too much TV as toddlers later forecasted:
‘A 7% decrease in classroom engagement.’
‘A 6% decrease in math achievement (with no harmful effects on later reading).’
‘A 10% increase in victimization by classmates (peer rejection, being teased, assaulted or insulted by other students).’
‘A 13% decrease in weekend physical activity.’
‘A 9% decrease in general physical activity.’
‘A 9% higher consumption of soft drinks.’
‘A 10% peak in snacks intake.’
‘A 5% increase in BMI.’
The source is valuable because its evidence I can use to prove my hypothesis that television negatively affects the early development of children. The study has looked at the effects of television not only from an academic perspective but from a psychological, and health perspective. The study also explains how television has long term effects rather than just focusing on the short term effects.
The limitation of the source is that it is focusing on a different age group to my hypothesis. The paper on the study has also not recorded in depth the steps taken in the study and the development of the children.
Source 2:
Sadaf Shallwani (Sadaf Shallwani is an early childhood and early education researcher and professional). ‘Effects of television on young children’s learning and development’. (2013/04/15)http://sadafshallwani.net/2013/04/15/tv/ (2014/01/03)
Title of source: Effects of television on young children’s learning and development.
The source written by Sadaf Shallwani is an internet entry on the effects of digital media on children. The source introduces the concept of technology being easily available to children as well as their seeming addiction to it. He uses that starting point to summarize some of the research on the effects of television on children.
The entry summarizes most of its information in quotes by the researchers summarized in it. The entry quotes information from many studies by (Christakis, Zimmerman, Meltzoff, Linebarger and Walker as well as Lillard, Schmidt, Kirkorian , Manganello, Taylor, Johnson, and Peterson) ‘preschool children watch an average of 4 to 5 hours of television each day’ (Christakis et al., 2013). In addition, the average American child between the ages of 8 months and 8 years is exposed to almost four hours of background television per day (Lapierre, Piotrowski, & Linebarger, 2012).
Shallwani then poses the question of how this much exposure to television can affect children, and whether or not some media programmes are better than others. The question is broken down into what research by the Canadian paediatric society as well as the American Academy of Paediatrics has to say about screen media first. A sentiment shared by both associations is that, ‘It seems that the best approach to take is to limit children’s screen time, and if/when they do watch TV, to carefully examine the shows they watch for how they promote thinking, language development, and prosocial behavior.’
According to a study by Lillard and Peterson, the cognitive effects of screen media on children younger than 2 years old have been associated with ‘slower cognitive outcomes’, ‘negative effects on language development’, and it is further stated that ‘different types of TV shows have different effects on language development’.
In terms of the emotional, social and behavioural effects television exposure below the age of two years old has been associated with attention problems later in life, and has been found to have negative effects on both parents and children’s concentration; with regards to a parents attentiveness and responsiveness as well as a child’s play time and the duration of it.
In the age 3 and up category, different types of TV shows affect the children based on the pace, and content of the TV show. ‘The more time a child spends watching television or the amount background TV’ there in early childhood has also been associated with increased aggression in later childhood as well as adult world. The types of shows may also have an effect; shows which promote pro-social behaviour like empathy, and cooperation are associated with better social competence than watching shows which promote violence.
The amount of time spent on watching television has in early childhood has been associated with a higher likelihood of obesity, later in childhood and adulthood.
The source is valuable as it gives an idea of how television and media affects children between the ages of 2 and 3. The source also gives the information on the effect of screen media’s effect in different age brackets which are representative of the different stages of development. The source breaks the research down into questions regarding, the effects of screen media on children’s learning, the effect of different television shows on children’s social behavioural and emotional development. These question’s must be answered in order to properly categorise the different effects, as well as finding out how far reaching the effects as well as the minimum time that children can be exposed to screen media.
The limitations of the source are that the information is from different studies which means that the data displayed may conflict with that of another study.
Source 3:
David L. Hill [Paediatrician, Author of Dad to Dad: Parenting like a pro, AAP (association of paediatrics) publishing 2012] http://www.healthychildren.org/english/family-life/media/pages/why-to-avoid-tv-before-age-2.aspx
Title: Why to Avoid TV before Age 2.
The source is an article warning parents why TV should be avoided before the age of 2. The article speaks about the early development of children and explains that what effects children at this stage is not what children are doing but more what they aren’t doing when they are in front of the television.
The article explains that the real danger with television during this stage of development is it distracts them and diminishes the amount of time spent learning. ‘Normally a parent speaks about 940 words per hour when a toddler is present. With the television on, that number falls by 770!’
According to the source 40% of infants are watching some sort of video by age 5 months, and that at age 2 that number increases to 90%. To answer the question of why early exposure to digital media is bad for the development of children, the source looks at the early ‘brain’ development of children’s minds. ‘Kids’ brains grow profoundly during the first 3 years of life, with the brain tripling in mass in just the first 12 months. The stimuli children experience during this period profoundly influence brain development.’ The source identifies the mode by which children learn and the stimuli which affect growth.
The problem with digital media, identified in the source is that in the first 2 years of life children are still developing their 3-dimensional vision, but ‘the world of the screen’ is not only in 2-dimensions but is intangible and inconsistent. It takes 2 full years before a child’s brain can reason the representations they see on screen.
Because children below 2 years of age have not developed enough to make sense of the ‘bizarre, pictures on screen’, it is best for them to learn from the world. According to the source the harm in all of this ‘confusion’ is not what the children are doing but what they’re not.
The long-term effects associated with toddlers who watch a more TV are a higher likelihood of developing attention problems later in life.
The articles only value is in its explanation of how television retards development.
The limitations are that the article has not outline any studies that may have been used to support their claims.
Source 4:
‘Distortions about the effects of television on children’. http://www.parentingscience.com/effects-of-television-on-children-learning-speech.html (2014/01/03)
Referenced within:
(Cooper NR, Uller C, Pettifer J, and Stolc FC. 2009. Conditioning attentional skills: examining the effects of the pace of television editing on children’s attention. Acta Paediatr. 2009 Jun 4. [Epub ahead of print].
Christakis DA, Gilkerson J, Richards JA, Zimmerman FJ, Garrison MM, Xu D, Gray S, and Yapanel U. 2009. Audible Television and Decreased Adult Words, Infant Vocalizations, and Conversational Turns: A Population-Based Study. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 163(6):554-558.
Crawley AM, Anderson DR, Wilder A, Williams M, and Santomero A. 1999. Effects of repeated exposures to a single episode of the television program Blue’s Clues on the viewing behaviors and comprehension of preschool children. J Educ Psychol. 91: 630-638.
Geist EA, Gibson M. 2000. The effect of network and public education television programs on four and five year olds ability to attend to educational tasks. J Instructional Psychol. 27:250-261.
Kuhl PK. 2004. Early language acquisition: Cracking the speech code. Nature Neuroscience 5: 831-843.
Kuhl PK, Tsao FM, and Liu HM. 2003. Foreign-language experience in infancy: effects of short-term exposure and social interaction on phonetic learning. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 100(15):9096-101. )
The source is about the distortions of the effects of television on children. One of the points that the article puts across is that television is merely a medium for transmitting information, and that it’s the information that counts. According to the article the studies referenced within it don’t support claims that television causes a learning lag in babies, but rather that it affects the rate at which they learn language.
Studies by (Crawley et al 1999; Geist et al 2000) show a link between babies and speech, and that experiments have shown that children who watch age appropriate TV shows, show immediate improvements in their abilities to recall information and to solve the sorts of problems in the shows, although certain aspects of television like fast pace and rapid change of scenes may contribute to the development of short attention spans. The main point of the article is that ‘when it comes to learning speech, nothing beats a live conversation’.
Patricia Kuhl has proven that live speech is a better method for learning point with some experiments on babies, where 9 month old American babies were presented with an unfamiliar language. In one experiment the babies were allowed to interact with a Mandarin speaker, after 12 sessions the babies displayed the ability to discriminate certain speech sounds that are common in the mandarin language, but when the experiment was repeated with another set of babies who watched only televised language tutors, the results were different the babies were less likely than the control infants to discriminate Mandarin speech patterns. In both experiments the Mandarin speakers gazed directly at the babies, discussed toys, and used that special, ‘baby-friendly’ style of speaking known as ‘infant-directed speech.’ The difference between experiments was the social factor. The discovery made was that babies need a social aspect when it comes to learning language.
Another study by Nicholas A. Christakis (Christakis et al 2009) also supports the idea that conversation has the strongest positive effect on language development in comparison to listening to stories or watching television. In the study researchers fitted children of the ages 0-4 years with recording devices, the aim of the study was to, measure how much adult conversation and television each child experienced. The results were that the effects of two-way conversation were 6 times greater than the effect of merely listening to adults talk.
The article is not meant to give the impression that television directly influences language inquisition in children, but rather that babies genuinely benefit from two-way conversations, and that perhaps rather than worrying about TV time parents should be worried about time spent in meaningful conversation.
Values: This source goes into a lot of depth as to how television affects young children during this early phase of development. The study this article is based on also goes into detail as to why television can negatively affect the rate at which children learn and grasp how the world works as well as their acquisition of language.
Limitations: An issue with the source is that the article only focuses on language and does not actually serve to dispel any myths/distortions about the topic of television. Another issue is that the source does not go into great depth about the individual studies referenced within it.

Source 5:
David C. Diehl and Stephanie C. Toelle (David C. Toelle has a B.S. in Psychology, with honours a M.A. in Human development and family studies and a Ph.D. in Human Development. Stephanie Toelle has a B.A Psychology and a M.S. Human Development). ‘Making Good Decisions: Television, Learning, and the Cognitive Development of Young Children’. http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/fy1074 (2014/01/26)
The paper by David C. Diehl and Stephanie C. Toelle starts off with a prediction from the 1950’s and asks if the prediction has come true. The article poses the concerns of parents about the effects that television has on children. The paper criticizes claims by companies ‘claiming to provide educational content for infants as there is little scientific evidence to prove that these claims are true’.
The research paper talks about young children’s exposure to media. A recent study by the AAP (American Academy of Paediatrics) found that 83% of children under the age of 2 use screen media (television, videos, DVDs) on a daily basis, and 66% of children aged between six months and six years use watch television every day.
Despite the AAP (American Academy of Paediatrics) recommendation that television viewing for children should be limited (no television for children younger than 2 years old, and children older than 2 should watch no more than 1 to 2 hours).They have found out through a study that 83% of children under the age of 2 use screen media and 66% of children aged six months to six years watch television every day.
According to the research paper whilst television programs aimed at pre-school aged children claim to be educational there is little scientific evidence to support the claims that they are actually educational.
The main focus of the article is on how children learn and how to use the information on what we know about infants and young children develop and learn to guide parents about making the right decisions.
The first point made establishes how children learn. It establishes that positive interaction with the world is integral to positive development. Some of the key things that infants, toddlers, and preschoolers need are:
‘ responsive, engaging, and stimulating interaction with their surroundings; Some of the key things that infants, toddlers, and preschoolers need are:
‘ exposure to language and sounds;
‘ adults who respond to their actions;
‘ the freedom and creativity that comes with play;
‘ the ability to explore the world and manipulate objects around them;
‘ guidance, structure, and support; and, praise, affection, and positive feedback
The effects of different types of television on children are also established.The paper also puts the type of television shows that a parent allows their child to watch as an indicator on whether the parent is more likely to value education or support early learning. As parents who either restrict television at an early age or encourage the viewership of educational television shows are ‘more likely to behave in ways that facilitate learning in other ways as well.’

Source 6:
‘How TV affects your child’. (Reviewed by Mary L. Gavin, MD and Steven Dowshen, MD) http://kidshealth.org/parent/positive/family/tv_affects_child.html(2014/01/26)
The source starts with recommendations of how much/or how little TV your children should be watching depending on age, as well as explaining the importance of the first two years of their development and how critical it is for brain development.
According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, two thirds of infants and toddlers, watch on average 2 hours of TV a day. Children under the age of 6 watch an average of about 2 hours of screen media on average, primarily TV, videos and DVD’s
The entry gives an indication of how television can affect your child mentally, immediately. It also reveals the long term effects if watched excessively. As the first two years are critical in a child’s brain development interference from television stops the child from ‘exploring, playing, and interacting with parents and others, which encourages learning and healthy physical and social development.’ As Children get older interference from digital screens would interfere with family time, physical activity.
The source is not one sided though and starts to give points as to the advantages of television when watched in moderation and when the appropriate shows are viewed , but they do warn that too much can be very detrimental.
As children who watch more than 4 hours of television are more likely to become: obese, those who view violent acts are more likely to display aggressive behaviour but also fear the world in belief that something bad may occur. Television characters sometimes depict risky behaviour and reinforce gender and racial stereotypes, which is why the AAP (American Academy of paediatrics) recommends parents monitor the television that their children view.
This sources value is in its explanation of the topic overall and it goes into a fair amount of detail into the dangers of television. The source also points the risks of behavioural changes due to television and it goes into really great detail about violence, risky behaviour and obesity.
This source has no figures to back up the information that it has posted there is no references to any studies and there is only the AAP and the KFF referenced, the study also mostly focuses on how it affects children at an older age than is necessary for my research task.
Source 7:
McLeod, S. A. (2007). Lev Vygotsky. Retrieved from http://www.simplypsychology.org/vygotsky.html
The work of Lev Vygotsky on the role of social interaction on cognitive development known as Social development theory has become the basis of a lot of research and theory into cognitive development.
Vygotsky argued, “Learning is a necessary and universal aspect of the process of developing culturally organized, specifically human psychological function” and that ‘Individual development cannot be understood without reference to the social and cultural context within which it is embedded. Higher mental processes in the individual have their origin in social processes.’
Vygotsky places emphasis on the culture affecting the cognitive development of children, hence Vygotsky assumes that cognitive development varies from culture to culture. He believes that social factors influence cognitive development; he states that the cognitive development stems from social interactions and guided learning. According to Vygotsky the environment in which children grow up will influence how they think and what they think about.
For Vygotsky, thought and language are initially separate systems from the beginning of life, merging at around three years of age, producing verbal thought (inner speech).
Eventually, through interaction within the sociocultural environment, the elementary mental functions of: attention, perception, sensation, memory are developed into more sophisticated and effective mental processes/strategies which he refers to as Higher Mental Functions.
An example of this is memory in young children, in literate societies note-taking is used to aid memory but in pre-literate cultures other aids need to be developed to help memory. Vygotsky believed that the tools of intellectual adaption vary from culture to culture.
‘Like Piaget, Vygotsky believes that young children are curious and actively involved in their own learning and the discovery and development of new understandings/schema. However, Vygotsky placed more emphasis on social contributions to the process of development, whereas Piaget emphasized self-initiated discovery.’
According to Vygotsky (1978) a lot of important learning by the child occurs through social interactions with a skilful tutor. The may model behaviours and/or provide verbal instructions for the child. Vygotsky refers to this as cooperative or Collaborative dialogue. Where the child seeks to understand the actions or instructions provided and then internalises it using it to guide or regulate their own performance.
More knowledgeable other (MKO) refers to someone with more knowledge or a better understanding with respect to a particular task, concept or process. The MKO despite it’s the implication may need not be a parent or adult in fact it may not need be a person. ‘Electronic tutors have also been used in educational settings to facilitate and guide students through the learning process.’
The zone of proximal development relates to what a child can do on their own and what they can do with guidance from an (MKO). The zone of proximal development is an area where instruction or guidance is given that will allow the child to develop skills they can use on their own, thereby developing higher order thinking skills.
The Zone of proximal development was proved against another theory of cognitive development, Piaget’s theory of discovery learning. In the experiment sets of children were to decide the placement of items of furniture in areas of a doll house, Some of the children were allowed to play with their mothers in a similar situation before attempting it alone(zone proximal development) while others were allowed to work on it on their own (Piaget’s discovery learning.)
It was found that the ones who had previously worked with their mothers had shown the greatest improvement in the group compared with their first attempt. This led to the conclusion that (ZPD) led to greater understanding/performance than working alone.
Vygotsky also believed that language plays a critical role in cognitive development, as it serves as a medium of communication and therefore interaction between the parent and the child. It also eventually serves as a tool of intellectual development. Vygotsky splits the development of speech into three forms. Social speech, external communication; private speech (speaking to oneself), directed at the self and serves an intellectual function at which point private speech becomes silent inner speech.
The theories in this source serve to prove the influence of socialisation on children and therefore prove the relevance of my two previous sources on socialisation. The source also adds its own information on the cognitive development of children with a breakdown of how socialisation affects the cognitive development. The theories presented by Lev Vygotsky have been said to be near impossible to disprove.
The only problem is that a criticism Rogoff had made about Lev Vygotsky’s theories about the MKO and the verbal/ lingual exchange that is apparently needed, is not universal. As certain tasks for example scaffolding which depends heavily on language and are not useful in certain cultures is an example of task where the zone of proximal development is not as effective as observation and practise.
Source 8:
Karen J. Pine and Avril Nash of the University of Hertfordshire, Hatfield, UK on behalf of the International Society for the Study of Behavioural Development ‘International journal of Behavioural Development: Dear Santa: The effects of television advertising on young children’ (2002, 26,529)
The source ‘Dear Santa: The effects of television advertising on young children’ aims to explore ‘how receptive they are to the commercial messages of toy advertisers’. The source is the eighth chapter of ‘The international Journal of Behavioural Development’ and focuses on ‘Consumer literacy’, ‘Understanding of Persuasive intent’ and ‘Perception of realism’.
The extract on ‘Understanding of Persuasive intent’ the issue of children not realising that a message can only portray the positive and omit the negative information is addressed. In this passage it is explained that children younger than age 7 are more vulnerable to advertising because of their naivety. Another facet of this passage is the explanation that television has an authoritative status for children who believe that Adult’s do not lie. ‘The younger the child is, the more likely they are to believe that advertisements always tell the truth (Greenberg, Fazal, &Wober, 1986).’
‘Consumer literacy’ addresses the issue that children do not have a limited understanding of commercial markets, and are unaware of the motivations behind the advertisements. And according to evidence suggested by Ward, Wackman and Wartella real consumer literacy emerges in early adolescence. As found by Greenberg et.al (1986) in a study, 80% of children between the ages of 4 ‘ 13 knew that they ”wanted to sell you something”
‘Perception of realism’ addresses the fact that techniques employed in commercials are used to enhance the appearance of the product and that without an understanding of production techniques and the nature of television as a medium of representation. This causes problems because children below the ages of 4 and 5 ‘do not understand that appearances can differ from reality’. In a study referenced by the source it was found that young children between the ages of 2 and 3 believed that a bowl of popcorn would spill if the TV set was turned upside down. The point that a number of cognitive skills must then be present in a child before they can be fully aware of the advertiser and distinguish between reality and fantasy, and evidence from psychological studies has shown that these skills manifest at different points in development.
Values: The source highlights the cognitive skills that still lack in young children that allow them to fully understand the implication of the images on the screen. The source also outlines the fact that children perceive what appears on television as reality, this relates to my research.
The limitations of the sourceis that it does not directly address televisions effect on children, but addresses their susceptibility to it.
Source 9:
Margaret O’Connor Lears ‘The Effects of television viewing on children’s conceptions about nutrition and health’ 1992
An abstract from the source ‘The effects of television viewing on children’s conceptions about nutrition and health’
The source ‘The effects of television viewing on children’s conceptions about nutrition and health’ is a thesis that addresses the issues of how children model norms based on portrayals from the media, the enforcement of this behaviour through repeated exposure in the media, as well as the general learning effect and its effect on children.
The general learning effect associated with television viewing, outlined in the 1972 Surgeon general’s Committee on Television and Social Behaviour, with regards to children is the conclusion that children are able to learn all types of things from television, although without parental supervision these can be incidental and potentially harmful (Singer &Singer, 1983).
Another issue addressed in chapter one is the socialisation of children by the media. The notion that prior to the prevalence and pervasiveness of the mass media children were socialised primarily through the family and community, but now neither the family nor the community are major influences that socialise children. And with television having become the norm children are now being socialised by mass media rather than parents. A further note on this is that this may be as a result of few parents actually making a strong effort to influence their children’s television use (McLeod & Brown, 1976).
The issue of the parent’s role in the construction of a child’s social reality is also mentioned. This is done through 2 phases of interaction the first being the parent helping to shape the child’s view of real life, the second being the parents discussion of content influencing the child’s perceptions about television content, which further influences their perceptions of reality.
Values: the source reveals information about issues like cultivation theory. This article is quite relevant to my research as it outlines the effect of learning on children’s learning and beliefs though the general leaning affect. Another focus is the cultivation theory which can apply to the social issues of television.
The main topic of the source is how television effects children’s conceptions on health and ideas about nutrition. Therefore a majority of the empirical data is done with a focus towards children’s nutrition and health relative to television consumption and television.
Process of findings:
The research project is broken up into the susceptibility of the child’s mind to the influence of television. Problems that also arise from early exposure to not only television but to digital media is the time taken away from the development of skills/ the interruption of the development of cognitive and social skills that will be required by children later in life. The research done into the effects of excessive viewership of television also includes the long term effects of excessive viewership.
Socialisation is a factor of great influence in the cognitive development of children between the ages of 2 and 3 according to Lev Vygotsky’s Social development theory. He proposes that the child’s socialisation affects its cognitive development. He also believes that guided learning and social interaction influence a child’s cognitive development which requires the presence of a More knowledgeable other (MKO). The zone of proximal development is the area in which interaction between a child and an MKO allow for the development of skills which the child can use on their own allowing for the development of higher mental functions. This indiscriminate need for interaction during a child’s development makes it very susceptible to things like the ‘general learning effect’.
This ranges from the influence of the ‘general learning effect, to the socialisation of children by advertisers. The issues of children’s lack of understanding of: ‘Persuasive intent’, ‘Consumer literacy’, ‘Perception of realism’, combined with the general learning effect as well as the change of modern societies social structure where parents once featured as the central socialisers in a child’s life. At this stage the child’s understanding of the world around them is based on the external input of the environment.
The problem of children being unable to understand persuasive intent, is explained as being resultant of children’s naivety to the fact that information is omitted in television, as well as television having an Authoritative status for children. This poses a problem for the development of children because it means that they see all information on Television as truthful or correct.
The subject of ‘Perception of realism’ reveals the lack of cognitive skills that allow children to understand the difference between appearance vs reality. The problem of the lack of knowledge of the production processes as well as television’s nature as a ‘medium of representation’ further exasperates the problems of the lack of cognitive skills required to distinguish fantasy from reality.
Another phenomenon that affects children who are exposed to television is the change of the main socialiser of children. The study carried out on ‘the effects of television viewing on children’s conceptions about nutrition and health’ helps to identify a problem outlined earlier about televisions authoritative status to children. The general learning effect characterised by the ability of children to learn a variety of things from television which without parental supervision may be potentially harmful information may or may not be harmful to the child’s development.
The problem of the change in the roles of society in the construction of children’s realities is addressed as well. The idea is raised that the major influences on a child’s a life have shifted from the family and parents to mass media(although it is noted that this may be due to few parents actually making an effort to influence their children’s use of television ).
The sources not only look at the susceptibility of children to television and how television plays a major influence on the children’s conceptions on reality but also to the amount of television viewed and how it affects learning and development. The sources also have an average as to the age at which television should be avoided. This age group is the 2-3 age groups, and afterwards television use should be supervised.
The sources ‘Making Good Decisions: Television, Learning, and the Cognitive Development of Young Children’, further describe these influences by television.
A source by Sadaf Shallwani looks at whether the amount of time spent using screen media can affect a child, and whether or not certain programmes may be better for children than others. According to this source the exposure of children younger than 2 years old results in ‘slower cognitive outcomes’ and ‘negative effects on learning development’. It is also stated that different shows have different effects on ‘language development’.
Television exposure below the age of two has also been linked to attention problems later in life, with negative effects on both children and parents attention and concentration spans. It affects a parents attentiveness as well as the duration of a child’s playtime.
Television in the age 3 and up group is also associated to children. The type of television shows as well as the content and pacing, has been linked to aggression in early and adult life. Accordingly shows which promote pro-social behaviour like empathy, and cooperation are associated with better social competence than watching shows which promote violence.
Another approach to the negative effects of television on children younger than two is not the direct impact of television. The approach is that a reason to avoid television before the age of 2 is that the real danger with television before the age of two is the time taken away from learning the fundamental skills that will be used later in life. An argument to this may be that this statement only applies to language acquisition. It has been proven by Professor of speech and hearing sciences Patricia Kuhl that a live conversation is the best from a learning point in an experiment involving two groups of babies. In one group the babies were allowed to interact with a live mandarin speaker whilst the other group watched televised language tutors, the babies who had interacted with the live speakers were more likely to discriminate mandarin speech patterns.
The indirect long term effects associated with extended exposure to the ‘wrong’ kinds of TV shows (shows which display risky behaviour, are not constructive or age appropriate) over a long period of time, are based on the lack of positive interaction that is crucial at the ages between 2 -3; which causes retarded acquisition of skills required later on in life (such as social skills) and can have adverse effects on the behavioural patterns later on in life (Aggressive behaviour, eating habits).
This is further proven by the study which was done as part of the Quebec Longitudinal Study of Child Development Main Exposure, done by the Universite de Montreal and its affiliate Sainte-Justine University Hospital Research Centre in Collaboration with Eric Dubow of the University of Michigan. The study looked at the long term effects of television on the early development of toddlers. The study reported a decrease in classroom engagement, in math achievement, in weekend physical activity, in general physical activity and an increase, in victimisation by classmates, in consumption of soft drinks and an increase in BMI. The study found that even incremental increases in television time effected development.
Television does affect the development of television between the ages of 2 and 3. It retards the rate of a child’s development by becoming a distraction during a phase where the most important development occurs. It also interrupts social interaction which drives cognitive development, and the development of higher mental functions.
According to social development theory cognitive development is driven by social interaction with a more knowledgeable other from whom they can learn how to do things as well as behaviours. His belief is that cultures create tools of intellectual adaptation which are taught through social interaction. Language is considered to be a large part of social development theory as it becomes a medium of communication and therefore interaction and becomes a tool of intellectual adaptation for children
Television retards development by interrupting this important social interaction between children and their parents. It has been found that if the television is on even in the background it can have detrimental effects on a child’s development. A recorded decrease from an average of 940 words per hour to an average of 770 words per hour has been recorded when the television is on.

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