Media Effects on Children
Technology has become a necessity nowadays as it is used every day to monitor and execute all kind of services that make lives of humans easier in many ways. This comfort comes with a price and a side effect (Strasburger, Jordan & Donnerstein, 2010). Media is now used daily inside almost all houses by adults mainly but children get their share of screen time which can affect them negatively if not chosen wisely under certain circumstances.
Spending too much time on the media causes mental health problems in children of all ages. The use of music, television, radio, Internet and video games should be limited since they affect kids differently, both positively and negatively. Nowadays, children spend a lot of time on screens than in free play and books unlike in the previous years. Media addiction is influenced by the lack of playing and talking which leads to poor social and listening skills.
Heavy TV-watching among children is linked to attention-deficit disorder in their early years at school. These children have shorter attention span than the colleagues of the same developmental level (Marshall et al., 2004). Children with short attention span also have higher affinity to television-watching than others. Studies also show that there is a possibility that excessive movies and television viewing could lead to language delays among children.
The children between the age of 1 and 2 who are exposed to too much screen viewing have subsequent attention issues when they reach the age of 7. The children of the age of 2 have more problems than the ones who are below their age. The situation becomes worse when a child has a television set in his bedroom. Watching television takes a lot of time which the children could have used to read or finish their homework. Young children would not benefit even from educational television and they would have the same effect as any other TV program. In the early years, children’s free time are supposed to be spent on activities such as nature exploration, playing, participating in games and reading (Strasburger, Jordan & Donnerstein, 2010). Television viewing only reduces their school achievement, increased attention deficit disorder and promotes sedentary behavior.
Exposure to heavy television viewing is linked with many other forms of health problems of children. Medical conditions such as hypertension, hypercholesterolemia, increased asthma prevalence, depression, sleep and mood disorders and psychological distress are other health factors that could result from media.
Physical and Emotional Effects
Media addiction affects mental functioning hence, the growth and development of children. Most of the time, media has effects on sexual behavior, drug abuse, violence, poor academic performance and eating disorders. When children spend approximately more than three hours a day glued to the computer, there is a large tendency of emotional problems. This kind of media has affected both physical and mental health (Geckle, 2016). Watching devastating scenes on the television, phones, Internet or video games has led to violent behavior such as bullying, among young school children. Violence is common in the media landscape where a great percentage shows deadly acts while the rest shows the use of weapons especially guns. The screen addiction has led to poor performance in academic work, social circles, family relationships, and also self-neglecting (Marshall et al., 2004). The increased use of media by most children has been influenced by the rapid advancement of technology around the globe.
Obesity is a major health concern all over the world. Studies have proved that there is a connection between child obesity and the media, even though how this happens exactly still remains unclear to many. The time children spend watching television and other forms of entertainment screens replaces the time they would have been involved in other active pursuits. The kind of food commercials on the television are mainly about fast food and junk food hence increasing children’s appetite for such food. In some households, children are given snacks to eat as they watch movies or television.
Watching screens late at night also affects the amount of time available for sleep. Lack of enough sleep is one of the factors that leads to obesity. In the developed countries, obesity presents a real danger to the health of young children and those in their teens (Geckle, 2016). There is a need for the parents to dictate the amount of time children should spend on television. Children’s bedroom should not have a television as this interferes with their sleep which could easy lead to obesity. Watching television decreases physical activities, which are of much importance for the development of children and the adolescents. The media has gone contrary to the health advices on how to avoid or control obesity. It promotes unhealthy eating habits among children through the food advertisement, alters their sleeping habits
Nowadays, children have access to the Internet available in devices. They are allowed to use devices without much restriction or supervision of their parents. Online community includes all sorts of characters and when a child is exposed to the online community without guidance of an adult, they sometimes end up being victims of cyber bullying. Cyber bullying is when a child feels threatened by another person online (Geckle, 2016). The extent of cyber bullying depends on how much the aggressor knows the child. The fact that the child is in the dark on the identity of the aggressor causes them to fear meeting people. The child becomes depressed and lonely. They may not want their parents to know about their online activities hence they decide not to report about their aggressors (Strasburger, Jordan & Donnerstein, 2010). Children could be easily swayed into giving their personal details, which are then used by the aggressor to bully them. The effects of cyber bullying are known to affect the children’s school performance. Cyber bullying calls for removal of media devices from the children’s rooms.
All content that children watch daily in their lives affect them as they grow up in one way or another. Music as a media is very important for child development since it ignites various areas such as emotional, intellectual, language and overall social life. Children’s attention spans have reduced due to excessive exposure to the media, which has affected their productivity in return. Children aged thirteen are recommended to sleep for eleven hours, but now they are sleeping for even less than five hours due to the excessive use of the media. The social media has contributed immensely to young kids indulging in drug abuse. Recent research shows that children seeing videos and photos of people smoking or drinking are encouraged to behave in the same manner (Strasburger, Jordan & Donnerstein, 2010). Movies and televisions have a great content of drug abuse. The drug advertisements are also so positive hence luring many teenagers to use and feel awesome as portrayed in the media. Drug abuse is now common at many schools, and it is considered to be a cool way of life.
The children and the teens are engaged in unhealthy behavior that has high societal costs. The media shows a lot of activities involving smoking, drinking and violence. These activities are shown in such a way that may confuse children as the best things to engage in because the media literally praises such behavior. The children generally become violent to the people around them and they constantly engage in bullying, issuing threats, and even cause harm to other people (Geckle, 2016). When children reach adolescence, they start engaging in smoking cigarettes, drinking alcohol and engaging in violence. This does not only affect the households from where they come from, but the whole community. They grow to adore gangs, violence and everything negative related to the media. In the end, they become drug addicts, rapists, robbers and even killers.
The role of media on risky behavior among children faces debate every day. Video games and movies encourage and promote violence and other risky behavior among children. Media may not be the leading cause of risky behavior but it plays a significant role. Social learning theory states that children learn by imitating and observing others. These include the people they see on the screen (Strasburger, Jordan & Donnerstein, 2010). Young children are not able to understand the persuasive intent of the advertisers hence they are more vulnerable to any negative form of advertisements on the screen. The media provides scripts to the children on how to behave in the situations they are not familiar with, for example, in romantic relationships. Media also provides good companion to the children because they make risky behavior such as smoking cigarettes and drinking alcohol normal (Marshall et al., 2004). More than half of the videos labeled as appropriate to the young ones contain violence. First-person shooter video games practically promote and encourage children to develop their killer instincts.
When children see violence in real life or on the television, they tend to believe that violence is acceptable in the society. Violence in real life can involve domestic violence or violent crime, but these are very minimal. The media makes violence or violent scenes very frequent to the children who believe whatever they see as the way of life. Their aggressive behavior is increased due to too much viewing of violence on the television (Geckle, 2016). When television shows many violent scenes, children become afraid and may regard the world and all strangers as dangerous. They become frightened more that an adult who has watched a thriller or horror movie. This gradually affects their emotional and social development.
The rapid advancement of technology has affected the world greatly. Viewing or listening to extreme contents in the media affects children’s mental health. The ability of a child to communicate effectively, listen and socialize has been affected by the many hours spent on the media. The longer the time spent by a child on watching television, playing video games and using a computer; the more likely they will experience mental health problems such as depression, emotional distress, and anxiety. Parents and all concerned stakeholders must ensure that they pay attention to how their children use media. Rules must be set on the time when children are allowed to watch television and the time they should engage in other activities.
Geckle, J. (2016). Use of Multimedia or Mobile Devices by Adolescents for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention: A Literature Review. Pediatric Nursing, 42(4), 163-167.
Marshall, S. J., Biddle, S. J., Gorely, T., Cameron, N., & Murdey, I. (2004). Relationships between media use, body fatness and physical activity in children and youth: a meta-analysis. International journal of obesity, 28(10), 1238-1246.
Strasburger, V. C., Jordan, A. B., &Donnerstein, E. (2010). Health effects of media on children and adolescents. Pediatrics, 125(4), 756-767.