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January 7, 2008

Do you pay enough attention to what your children watch on TV?

Do you pay enough attention to what your children are watching on TV? Violent programs on television lead to aggressive behaviour in children and teenagers. Children often behave differently after they’ve been watching violent programs on TV. Others would debate that the issue of TV violence and children is non-existent because TV violence doesn’t have any psychologically damaging effects on children’s psyche. Did you know that nearly 3 out of 4 TV programs contain violence; average 6 violent acts per hour and that, the average child who watches 3 hours of cartoons per day see more than 10,000 violent acts a year. Violence is a leading cause of death for children, adolescents and young adults and more preventable than disease, or congenital disorders. Younger kids are particularly vulnerable to the Physiological media violence, especially those under 5 who can’t easily distinguish between fiction and non- fiction. When children are very young and see a violent TV show, the effects are nightmares and increased anxiety; some parents wonder why their children can’t go to sleep, or are afraid of the so called boogie man in their closet. Even though parents have become aware of too much violence in movies and television programs; there are also many examples of violent acts that have been over looked in video games, books, and music. Approximately 95% of Canadian homes have at least one television set. In homes where children have there own TV children view programs separately from parents, unnoticed and unsupervised.  Movies have some of the most traumatic violence of all entertainment.  That is why it is so important for parents to learn about or watch a movie their children want to see and to check the rating before allowing them to watch it. Some of the effects as well that violence on TV has towards children are, stimulate aggressive behaviour, encourage problem solving by physical force and produce fear about living in a dangerous world. Even Mickey Mouse has taught children to hate and kill.  Television is a powerful force in children’s lives. Many children now spend more time in front of a screen than in school.  The problem is made even worse due to much of what children see on the screen is violent. It undermines lessons we teach at home about how people treat each other and encourages the use of violence to solve problems.  So next time you sit in front of that TV, whether it is news or a simple cartoon, ask yourself … where are my children….

Here are some tips on how to help cope with it:

     * Decide together how much “screen time” is okay each day or week

     *Discuss and work out which shows are okay and which are not *Make a chart of shows which your children want to watch and which you can agree are good choices.  

     *Encourage creative and imaginative play rather than play that mainly imitates what    Children see on TV.

     * Provide toys that children can use in many ways over a long period of time, such as Blocks and play dough or just read a good book.

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