Limiting Children's Media Diet
Parents not only refer their child's
physical ailments to doctors but lately,
the child's behavioral problems as well.
Riding on this trend, the American
Academy of Paediatrics (AAP) has
recommended that doctors, during
routine medical check-ups, inquire about
children's use of the media. This will go a
long way in helping to identify patterns
that can threaten the emotional and
physical health of the child.
Many times parents have received
complaints from the school about their
child's aggressive behavior. Often, this
has been referred to the family physician rather than the behavioral
psychologist. Says a doctor at the AAP, "You look at the history and then note
that the child has not only been sitting in front of the TV for hours watching
violent shows but also playing aggressive computer games. At the least, this is
something to start with." Says another, "The child could be modeling violent
behavior and the parents are unaware of it."
Another related problem is obesity. This problem troubles many parents.
After talking to the child, the doctor discovers that the child has similarly
spent hours watching TV and video and not getting sufficient exercise. "It's
another way where media habits can affect health," says the doctor.
The AAP recommends that two hours of quality TV or video shows a day
for older children is sufficient. However, as far as toddlers below two are
concerned, the AAP recommends that they should not be allowed to watch any
TV. Excessive and indiscriminate media viewing can lead to other side effects
and these include repeated aggression with peers or adults, poor grades,
frequent nightmares, increased eating of unhealthy foods; and later, smoking,
drinking and drug use.
Critics on the other hand are quick to point out that adults should
cultivate an overview of parenting rather than attack one aspect: the media. At
present, parents seem to be caught up with the material pursuits of life to the
extent that they are unable to find sufficient time for other priorities in life.
These critics say that if parents could only take stock of the situation and sort
out their priorities, then there is a strong likelihood that they would spend
more time with their children, supervise them, and watch over their viewing
It is an undeniable fact that much lies in the hands of parents. Although
the media has a responsible role to play, the hone plays an overall important
role in providing the right foundations in life for a child.