Friday, May 27, 2005

Babies and Television viewing

By Mylea

Today unfortunately, children are being exposed to constant television viewing from the time of infancy. On several occasions I have had parents in the initial stages of bringing their child to daycare inform me that if we wanted to keep the child busy just set them in front of the television because they love to watch the colors and movement. The idea of teaching babies to focus on the television at such as early age is simply not good for this child.

Doctors from the Japan Pediatric Association says that children who watch television for extended periods of time are more likely to have difficulty communicating. Why do you think that is? Let us stop and think about it, if our children are of speaking age and yet they never have to talk due to not being able to have an interactive conversation with a television set we are in fact stumping the speech process. They have nothing to exercise or build on other than listening to others. Because of no exchange of communication while watching television some of the problems that might occur are; impaired ability to remember words or to maintain eye contact with you. They become unable to form interpersonal relationships with others as well as may prevent them from having healthy mental growth.

The Pediatric Association recommends that parents turn off the television sets during times when family interaction is encouraged, such as meal time. This would also include times when mother is nursing. Today almost every child has a computer in his room, or a video game and a television. Studies have been conducted with taking these electronic devices out of the rooms of children and the results were, communication skills improved.

For healthy mental growth, spend time with your children outside playing games. Encourage them to talk at mealtime; you can do this by taking turns sharing information about your day. Depending on the age of the child, in the beginning ask appropriate questions that require more than a yes or no answer. Listen intently to the answer your child gives, sometimes their answer may shock you but the important thing is not to over-react to what they have said. Now, that you have opened the door to communication do not close it by not thinking before you respond to what your child feels comfortable enough in sharing with you.

As parents, we first want to set the example ourselves of not constantly watching the television set. Take the initiative to sit with your baby or toddler and play games, introduce and identify new words to them by pointing to the object and assigning a name to it. Use appropriate facial expressions and voice tones during play; this is also helps in effective communication growth. Do not practice baby talk; instead use proper pronunciations of words in building vocabulary. Children television viewing is not bad within itself but the key is moderation. We want our children to grow up being good communicators and this can only happen if we as parents take an active role in their mental growth.

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