There are some advantages to allowing children to view television programming. Educational programming like Barney, Sesame Street, and Dora the Explorer are designed to promote growth and learning. Educational programming teaches valuable skills like spelling, reading, and math. Some programming teaches values, life lessons, and proper dietary habits. Commercials are beginning to educate children about the negative effects of drugs, alcohol and smoking encouraging families to spend time together. When viewed properly, television can be a strong educational tool and a means for families to spend some quality time with each other. Television viewing should lead to discussions to reinforce learning and to answer questions about the content of the program which was confusing or unclear.
Although there are some advantages to allowing children to watch television, there are many more advantages to limiting television. Limiting television can create more time for family gathering and activities. Interaction with family provides opportunity for children to imitate and learn values and skills from parents. Children who are encouraged to play instead of watching television benefit from exercise and social interaction with adults and children and this helps develop appropriate social skills and healthy children. Television is not interactive and can only teach through devices like repetition and music, which does not reinforce learning. Teaching a child without the use of television or as a secondary educational source can provide reinforced learning. Hands-on activities and social interaction on topics related to the television learning will ensure that the children have learned necessary skills.
Many television programs teach violence and sex while smoking, alcohol, or drugs are often depicted as fun party activities or cool to do with friends. Watching television for lengthy periods often leads to an inactive lifestyle creating obesity among children. Children become less responsive to surroundings when set in front of the television and attention spans become shorter. Watching educational programs can promote learning and if parents watch with children learning can be reinforced and questions can be answered. Viewing appropriate programming with children offers time for family and a better understanding of television content; however, lengthy viewing times are harmful for both parents and children. Television viewing can lead to long periods of inactivity and the lack of exercise can lead to obesity. Childhood obesity can lead to a negative impact on necessary social skills. "The most widespread consequences of childhood obesity are psychosocial. Obese children become targets of early and systematic discrimination and as they mature, the effects of discrimination become more culture-bound and insidious (Dietz, 1998, 518)." Childhood obesity can also lead to adulthood disease like diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure.
The advantages of limiting children's television viewing habits outweigh the advantages of increasing viewing habits toward educational programming. Quality family time away from the television should be reason enough to turn off the television. Healthy children who eat right and exercise will create a healthier and happier society. Children