ARE WE ALL VICTIMS OF THE IDIOT BOX?

Donna Gephart once said, “Today, watching television often means fighting, violence and foul language — and that's just deciding who gets to hold the remote control.” Television has proved to be not just an entertainment medium, but a black box that can influence, ...

By Iman Ahmed (Contributor)

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Published: Sat 30 Apr 2005, 12:54 PM

Last updated: Thu 2 Apr 2015, 2:50 PM

motivate and change a person's attitudes and beliefs. An audience that is easily influenced by television and by far spends the most time ‘glued to the tube’ is children.

Children watch TV daily for hours on end. Not only do they never seem to tire of it, they want more! Be it video games or cartoons, documentaries or talk shows, comedies or drama, it's all children's cinema now. The fine line between adult viewing and children's viewing seems to have blurred.

Not only does TV interfere with oral and face to face communication, it takes over study time, bed time and more importantly, family time. Gone are the days when the whole family sat around a dinner table and discussed their day over a hot wholesome meal. Today, each member of the family slinks off to his/her room, where they perch in front of the TV and bite into a pizza. City Times speaks to parents and their children to get both sides of the story.

Dr Cindy Gunn, mother of two, says, “When my children were younger, we did not have cable TV or access to Cartoon Network, Fox Kids, etc. I let them watch videos, for example, Winnie the Pooh, Blues Clues, Barney, The Wiggles, etc. As they got older, they wanted to watch what their friends were watching so we got cable. However, the cartoons on cable are terrible for the most part, so we actually don't watch the cartoon channels much at all. Both my children like Discovery Channel and Animal Planet. They also like interactive shows where they learn how to make crafts and things.”

“Sometimes we all watch a movie together, or they watch one on their own, but for the most part we try to limit the amount of TV during schools days to less than an hour. We are not always successful, but we try. I think that there are some very good shows on TV that teach children about the beauty of life, the value of friendship and how to overcome difficulties. These shows are generally not on the cartoon channels, but the shows are out there. I think it's very important to be aware of what my children are watching and to steer them away from inappropriate shows.”

Her daughter Alena Raven, 7, gave us her views on television, "I am only supposed to watch television for half an hour a day but sometimes I sneak in a bit more. I like to watch Animal Planet especially the elephant on the sign and the earth on the sign. I also like High Five, Fingertips and All Grown Up. TV sometimes hurts my eyes so I watch it for less than half an hour. I can't sit too close to it either or it hurts my eyes even more.

Joshua Raven, 10, watches similar programmes on TV, "I used to like (and I still do occasionally) watching cartoons like for one hour. But then mom said I could watch them only for half an hour a day and she sometimes chose the cartoons because some were horrible. I agree now. The ones with the guys killing each other and using bad language and stuff. Now, I watch Animal Planet and Discovery. I don't watch the boring ones. I like to watch the ones where they build a car from scrap materials and then they compete. And I also like "To the ends of the Earth". It's really cool."

Tina Richardson, mother of twelve-year-old Max, says, "As a parent, I have few rules regarding television viewing. I am not sure that there is anything other than pornography that I would prevent my son from watching. My attitude towards TV is much like my attitude toward other issues. I accept that we live in an imperfect world, but that we learn by our exposure to and analysis of those imperfections. I do not believe we are made stronger, or more intelligent, or more secure by denying the reality of our world and — whether we like it or not — TV is a part of that world. Television programming can be positive or negative and everything between those extremes. But whatever it may be at any given moment, TV is always something in our lives that we control, not the other way around. I understand my position as a parent not to deny the existence of the realities of our world, but to help my son understand them so he can make his own informed choices: so we talk ... about the habit of watching TV, the value of TV, some issues specific programmes raise, and we talk about the influence of TV. Sometimes when we have these conversations the TV is on, but most often it's off."

Her son Max, 12, said, "I think television does not harm a child's mind. I am a twelve-year-old who enjoys cartoons or the next scary movie. But while I watch the movies, or TV, I take in information. I'm not saying you should watch television all day, but it is not evil. A good family experience is after work or school, all together talking and watching TV. Sure I get crazy thoughts from it, but I know not to do those things because of my self-esteem and self-control. No one programme can change your thinking or personality. Even if the TV tells me to shoot someone, I won't because I know the consequences, and I have moral values. If anyone is to blame, it is the parents of insane kids or excessive TV watchers. The TV is entertainment and ideas, not an evil monster hooking your child to shootings, money and sex."



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