It’s a common thought that television is bad for children. However, watching certain television shows and movies may actually have some benefits for kids. Although it’s always important to consider what shows your children are watching and how much time they are spending in front of the screen, allowing your kids to watch TV may not be such a bad idea.
The following are some of the top benefits children receive from being exposed to limited amounts of the right programming:
- Television can expose children to unique places or things that they wouldn’t otherwise be able to experience. Most children aren’t’ able to travel across the world or see animals or cultures from another place. Children and adults are enriched by programming that allows us to see other places. Shows such as The Discovery Channel’s Planet Earth (http://dsc.discovery.com/tv/planet-earth/) offer a great opportunity for parents to watch a show with their kids and learn something new together. These kinds of shows are truly educational, as they help children learn about a variety of subjects—from space exploration to zoology, there are many shows that expose children to a variety of topics.
- Certain shows may inspire a child to try something that they wouldn’t otherwise have wanted to experience. For example, a child may want to learn a new sport or game if they see a character doing it. Preschool-aged children are most easily influenced by these types of programming. At this young age, they are inquisitive and easily motivated and challenged by new things.
- Many shows inspire children to read. Many of the shows and movies available to children are based on books. If your child loves the movie, let them know that the book has far more of the story to tell. Take the time to let them explain which they like better and why and challenge them to point out the differences.
- Television opens up dialogue for parents to talk to their children about advertising. Children are extremely susceptible to media so it’s important that parents open up the conversation about what influences us each day. Between what programs we watch and what commercials are shown, there are a lot of chances for parents to have meaningful conversations with their children about consumerism—even at a young age.
- Many children’s movies and television programs are based off of stories with a good lesson and a hero. It’s good for you as a parent to research what specifically your children are watching but many of them have great morals that are great for children to know. For example, the moral of the Disney classic The Beauty and the Beast is that beauty is really found within. This is a great moral for any young person to be exposed to.
- Some television shows, especially 3d television, encourages children to get up and move. Some ask the kids to do a basic exercise move, while other shows get them dancing. The more moving around they do, the better for them (and the better for you, when nap time comes early!)
It’s important to remember that the key to children’s television and movie viewing is the experience you have together. It’s recommended that parents spend time watching shows with their kids and engaging in conversation with them to help develop their analytical skills. Watching shows and analyzing it with their parents, helps kids problem solve, memorize and learn to predict what happens next. Following a plotline and watching their favorite characters develop week after week will help them recognize patterns and compare/contrast.
When it comes down to it, you as a parent have the ultimate say in what programming your children are exposed to. Do research and talk to other parents about what programs they allow and encourage their children to watch. Research parental blocks that may be available with your television or service provider—such blocks allow you to select what programs your children are allowed to watch as well as they length of time they can watch.