children are very vulnerable to the affects of television
violence. Research has shown that watching it can cause children
to behave more aggressively, become desensitized to the pain
of others and fearful of the world around them. Remember,
things that may not be frightening to an adult could be terrifying
to a young child. Frightening images and sounds can trigger
bedtime fears and nightmares, especially for young children
who are still learning to distinguish make-believe from reality.
But there is yet another compelling reason why we should be
cautious about exposing children to excessive amounts of television,
video, and computer games.
us who work closely with children have begun to suspect that
today’s technology may be changing the wiring in our
children’s brains and contributing to the rise of ADHD
and other neurobiological disorders. Although more studies
are needed, preliminary research seems to indicate that television
viewing and other forms of video have the potential to affect
the brain and related learning abilities.
published in the American Academy of Pediatrics in April 2004,
suggested that TV viewing in very young children contributes
to attention problems later in life. According to Christakis,
the lead author of the study, “Each hour of television
watched per day at ages one through three increases the risk
of attention problems by almost 10 percent at age seven.”
A television programming tactic that is often used to keep
children’s attention focused on the show may be particularly
and Jane Healy, author of the book, Endangered Minds, warn
that programs which use rapid scene changes may have a particularly
harmful affect on brain chemistry. They believe that exposure
to this type of high intensity, unrealistic action conditions
a child’s mind to expect that level of stimulation and
that after adjusting to it, they become bored and inattentive
not want to completely eliminate television from your household
but be sure to limit viewing time and turn it off when it
is simply running in the background. Carefully monitor the
shows that your child watches, and keep in mind that for young
children, slow paced shows are preferable to fast-paced ones.
Video games are known to provoke high levels of stress so
limit the amount of time that your child is allowed to play
them. Have a quiet time each evening and turn everything off
at least an hour before bed.
- Limit television & video viewing time, as well as
time spent playing video or
- Monitor TV shows, avoiding violent shows, those that are
fast paced and
material that is inappropriate for your child’s age
and level of maturity.
- Turn all electronic equipment off at least an hour before
the author: Dubbed “The Dream Maker” by People
magazine, Patti Teel is a former teacher and the author of
Floppy Sleepy Game Book, which
gives parents techniques to help their children relax or fall
asleep. Visit her online at www.pattiteel.com.