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The Digital Age and its Effect

The American Academy of Pediatrics urges parents to avoid television and other electronic media for children two years of age and under; yet two thirds of infants and toddlers watch a ‘screen’ for an average of two hours per day.

Older children have a similar average; however children ages eight to eighteen have an average of four hours per day. This amount of time spent in front of a computer, television, video game or the like can interfere with school work, physical activity, curious exploration, social interaction and playing. Many children also get in the (bad) habit of eating snacks while watching TV or playing computer games which can turn into a habit of eating when not hungry and contribute to childhood obesity.

Extended exposure to television poses serious risks.

  • Children who watch violent shows or play violent (video) games may become desensitized to violence at a higher rate.
  • These violent (video) games re-enforce stereotypical gender roles which are often demeaning to women.
  • Children who view what is considered “risky behavior” such as smoking, drinking, doing drugs, selling drugs or having sex are at a greater risk.
  • It has been suggested that the more television a child watches, the higher their risk of developing an attention deficit disorder. For every hour a day a child watches a screen, their chances go up 10%. (If a child watches four hours of television every day, they are 40% more likely to develop an attention deficit disorder.)
  • Children are bombarded with commercials. They are conditioned to think they need the advertised products to make them happier.
    • If your three-year-old watches television every day and regularly sees a happy child playing with a toy, she will begin to believe that she will only be happy when she has that toy.
    • Commercials may encourage unhealthy eating habits which can lead to an unhealthy eating habit called “snacking habit.” This snacking is generally a component of a sedentary, unhealthy lifestyle.

Watching TV, however, may provide benefits – Sesame Street has long been credited with helping youngsters learn the alphabet and its’ shows also depict racial and social diversity.