Increased Television Use and How it Affects Children:
The Risks of Television Exposure
University of Windsor
Increased Television Use and How it Affects Children
There are many examples of statistical data that thoroughly explain the ways increased television watch affect children and their development. According to previous data, the average child watches 3 hours of television daily (Bar-on, 2000). These numbers have not decreased much over the past 10 years, taking into consideration that the number of hours does not count for video game play (Bar-on, 2000). A survey that was conducted about the content children watch shows the average child views around 12000 violent acts (Bar-on, 2000). These messages through television can significantly influence the child to agree to them (Bar-on, 2000). Television can influence a child’s perception and behavioral outlooks (Bar-on, 2000).
There are two primary reasons as to why children have increased obesity rates: reduced energy from increased television watch and increased unhealthy food intake from advertisement exposure (Bar-on, 2000). Further research on the topic also examines the factors in television exposure and its correlation with overall cognitive development. This research examines language delays, decreased attention, and cognitive abilities starting in ages 5 and younger (McGowan, 2016). Children in this age group are easily vulnerable to any television messages they oversee (McGowan, 2016). Although there are multiple factors that contribute to increased television watch and its effect on children, a significant amount is being focused on aggressive behavior, obesity rates, and cognitive ability.
A major factor that results from increased television use is social and physical aggression. The child is usually influenced by popular television shows that display insults and violent physical actions (Martin ; Wilson, 2012). Martin ; Wilson (2012) hypothesised that children viewing socially aggressive behavior on television shows and movies increase fair amounts of physical aggression. A quantitative study of two school populations in Vermillion County, Illinois used the Revised Social Experience Questionnaire that was conducted to examine these relationships along with their SES (Martins ; Wilson, 2012). An overall sample of 527 children (283 girls ; 244 boys), ranging from ages 5-12 years old were placed in quiet rooms and asked to answer 2 different questionnaires that were on the topics: social aggression perpetration and television exposure (Martins ; Wilson, 2012). There were 29 teacher participants who were asked to help the students and to complete a questionnaire after the corresponding student was completed (Martins ; Wilson, 2012). There were two types of aggressions being assessed: social and physical. The social part of the questionnaire was asking questions regarding bullying and hurting other’s feelings, while the physical part was asking about hitting other students (Martins & Wilson, 2012). In the television exposure questionnaire, students were listed television programs and answered how often they watched them. This collected data on the amounts of social and physical aggression in the shows that the children watched the most (Martins & Wilson, 2012). The ending question was how often the child watched television a day (Martins & Wilson, 2012). Once the data was analysed, the conclusion was that there is a positive correlation with television exposure and both physical and social aggression (Martins & Wilson, 2012). There were differences based on gender; however, there was positive relationships in increased television use and aggression in both contexts (Martins & Wilson, 2012). Boys displayed more physical aggression and television watch, while girls displayed more social aggression and watched television shows based on that type (Martins & Wilson, 2012).
Research conducted in this field of work has found many sources of how increased television use can influence aggression on children. Pinto da Mota Matos, Alves Ferreira, & Haase (2012) examined roles of identification with violent television heroes, enjoyment of television violence, and perceived reality within them. They compared this relationship with viewing television violence and physical and social aggression (Pinto da Mota Matos, Alves Ferreira, & Haase, 2012). In total, the sample study consisted of 722 (353 boys & 369 girls) students in several schools in Portugal, ranging from ages 9 to 16 years old (Pinto da Mota Matos et al., 2012). Participants were randomly selected to complete a questionnaire about exposure to television violence and were given 23 different genres of television programs to rate how often they watched them (Pinto da Mota Matos et al., 2012). Another section of questions for television violence was the enjoyment. Students were asked to rate how much they enjoyed gory or violent television shows (Pinto da Mota Matos et al., 2012). The Questionnaire of Aggressive Behavior was introduced to assess social and physical behaviour (Pinto da Mota Matos et al., 2012). The questionnaire consisted of conflict scenarios that would provide an aggressive stimulus and the student would have to decide if they would use physical, social, or no aggression at all (Pinto da Mota Matos et al., 2012). The questionnaire findings were analysed using equation tables that calculated means and standard deviations for variables tested (Pinto da Mota Matos et al., 2012). The results displayed that the relationship between television violence and aggression are correlated with enjoyment of television violence (Pinto da Mota Matos et al., 2012). The influences of television heroes and characters have strong perception on a child’s reality (Pinto da Mota Matos et al., 2012). The importance of this study was to look at different ways parents and guardians can change how their child perceives violence on television (Pinto da Mota Matos et al., 2012). Previous research has shown that interventions about perceiving television violence can improve a child’s aggressive impulses (Pinto da Mota Matos et al., 2012).
There are numbers of studies that have looked at how increased television watch in children correlates with obesity. There is a main theme of unhealthy food advertisements within these studies. A study that was pointed towards the influence of unhealthy food advertisements on children was conducted by Lioutas & Tzimitra-Kalogianni (2015). Lioutas & Tzimitra-Kalogianni (2015) hypothesised that food advertisements influence children’s preferences on food choices, steering them to an unhealthy lifestyle. The participants consisted of a random sample of 211 children (104 boys ; 107 girls), ranging from 6 to 12 years old in multiple elementary school districts originating from Thessaly, Greece (Lioutas ; Tzimitra-Kalogianni, 2015). Data was collected from 3 different questionnaires regarding children’s lifestyle patterns, food consumption, and their perspectives on advertising (Lioutas & Tzimitra-Kalogianni, 2015). The Leisure Activities Scale (LAS) was the first questionnaire that gathered information regarding how long a child spends sitting and watching television daily (Lioutas & Tzimitra-Kalogianni, 2015). Children’s Food Consumption Frequency Questionnaire (CFCFQ) was the second assessment that questions concerned a child’s frequency of consuming particular food categories (Lioutas & Tzimitra-Kalogianni, 2015). These questions were motivated from recent studies concerning children’s unhealthy food habits from the Greek origin (Lioutas ; Tzimitra-Kalogianni, 2015). The Children’s Response to Advertising Questionnaire (CRAQ) consisted of how children felt about advertising as a whole (Lioutas & Tzimitra-Kalogianni, 2015). The study concluded that increased television exposure introduces children to food advertisements and this can influence a child’s eating lifestyle because their actions are based on pleasure (Lioutas ; Tzimitra-Kalogianni, 2015). This provides the notion that children who have poor understanding of the influential power of advertisements will think of unhealthy food as a good source (Lioutas ; Tzimitra-Kalogianni, 2015).