We all know the sayings, “children learn by example”, “children watch and learn”, “lead by example”. All of these statements and more lend to the topic that I’m eager to discuss, kids learn from what the watch. Specifically, Preschoolers learn from what they watch on television. I recently read an article on the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services website regarding what children are watching on television.
A new study led by Dimitri Christaki, from Seattle Children’s Research Institute, indicates that the media parents allow Preschoolers (3-5 year olds) to watch can influence whether a child is aggressive or cooperative. The study looked at data on 3-5 year old children of 565 parents. During the study the parents kept track of what their kids watched. Half of the parents allowed their children to watch programming that the researchers considered not aggressive or that emphasized nice behavior. The children of those parents showed less aggression and more good social behavior, says Christakis. He also says, “One of the central findings of this study is that it should not just be about turning off the television. It should be about changing the channel.”
Parents have so much on their plate as it is, but this is definitely something to think about and pay close attention to. Not only does aggressive programming affect children, but all programming affects them, whether good or bad. Children are innocent and honest, so they usually repeat what they hear and see. What they watch or experience in excess can be heard in their playful conversations with their peers and seen in their play. So, we as parents, aunties, uncles and family must be alert and aware of our children’s behavior and reactions towards television programming. Children are moldable during the early ages and much of what they learn in the early years plays a role in who they are later on in life. As a teacher who works in early childhood I believe the years from birth through age 5 are the most important years to influence and develop the brain. So, let’s make sure we pay close attention to what we allow our children to watch on a regular basis.
What programming are your kids watching? Do you monitor everything your children watch (younger – older children)? If you’re not a parent, do you allow nieces/nephews or god children to watch whatever they want in your home? After watching something aggressive or negative how does it make you feel?