As the amount of time that children spend watching television increases, so does the concern for how it affects their academic ability. Children are watching on average four hours of television a day, and extensive research is being made into the effects. However, there is currently no evidence suggesting that television watching affects children`s performance in school in a negative manner. In fact, modern research has found that there is a positive correlation between television viewing of 10 hours per week and sustained academic results.
Television can be a very useful academic tool, and has been used in the classroom for academic purposes since the 1970`s. The television programmes are used to assist children in various subject areas, and are used alongside other teaching materials, to give a well rounded approach to learning materials. This has proved successful as children prefer learning visually at a young age. In the past, few programmes were designed for this purpose. However, with the extent of research that has gone into children`s television and the input of governing bodies such as the U.S. Federal Trade Commission and the Federal Communications Commission, this attitude has changed.
Research into the effects of television on children`s behaviour and performance has been in place since the 1950`s. However, with the formation of the Action for Children`s Television society in 1970, the research has been extensive and covering a variety of areas. The importance of the content of children`s television has created governing bodies on each television network to make sure they are fulfilling their public responsibility. The research is weighted against product demand, current issues and education, and aims to make sure that all characters are good role models. This includes removing stereotyping and encouraging social tolerance.
As a result, regular television now consistently shows programmes of an educational nature. These programmes can easily be found on channels such as national geographic, discovery, and the learning channel, as well as on general stations worldwide. It was the well known children`s television programme Sesame Street that was first broadcast in 1969 that changed the face of educational TV for children. It showed that children do not only learn through informative documentary style programmes but that they learn skills by modelling positive behaviours on television.
Research has found that repetition is central to a child`s education, and this applies to educational television viewing also. It states that reruns are useful as they create recognisable characters and situations which help children to learn about cause and effect, sequencing and also improve their understanding of people and the world around them. Children`s television programmes are repeated up to four times a year to maximise the potential, though of course, this also assists with costs.
Another useful feature of television is that it tackles difficult questions in the areas of morality and ethics. Through the medium of television, children are exposed to ideas and made aware of cultures that they can not necessarily experience for themselves. Television also assists with topics that are tricky to approach such as bereavement and bullying. As the subject is raised outside of the child`s environment, then it can be easier for them to discuss and deliberate over these subjects, particularly if they are relevant to their own experiences. Television is a popular medium of choice for conveying such ideas in classrooms around the world.
A final point to consider is that television is a visually stimulating medium and is of interest to children. Therefore, it can be used to assist reluctant learners by creating interest and removing pressure that can accompany traditional learning techniques.
Television is a useful educational tool if used correctly and in moderation. Television can assist with academic learning and also their social and emotional development. Although more research is needed, it is the attitude towards television and its uses that creates a successful environment in which children can learn.
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