Dr. Laura Markham has an excellent overview of the effects of TV, and why parents should limit, or even get rid of the TV.
Why TV Undermines Academics & Values
A sample from her article:
You recommend that kids don’t watch much, if any, TV. Why?
Because TV is addictive, and like all addictions, it has a high cost that we usually avoid acknowledging. Research shows that people who don’t watch TV are happier and healthier, have better self-esteem, and are less fearful.
Females who don’t watch TV have a healthier body image. This is all even more true for kids, because TV has a bigger impact on them. Not surprisingly, families who watch less TV are closer, and kids who see less TV become sexually active at a later age.
But let’s start with reading. We know that kids who love to read do better in school. Virtually all parents say they want their children to love reading, but most kids stop reading books that aren’t assigned in school by middle school. Only 28 percent of eighth graders score at or above the proficiency level in reading; in fact, only two percent of them read at an advanced level. What happens?
TV and reading are linked: Research shows that the more TV kids watch before the age of eight, the less they read after the age of eight. Of course, that’s a correlation, so it doesn’t prove that one leads to the other, but most researchers are convinced. If you want your children to be readers, don’t let them get addicted to TV and videos. Time spent on the one activity precludes the other. And once kids develop the habit of TV, they are less likely to seek out books of their own accord. Books — which are more work — just can’t compete with the lure of the screen.
I really like her question and answer format, some of the other questions are:
So no TV or videos at all? Isn’t that a little extreme?
But when children are little, before they can read, TV is ok?
Isn’t public television ok?
Doesn’t Sesame Street teach children to read?
So of course I will read to and talk to my child. But doesn’t Sesame Street help?
But how awful to constantly have to tell your kids they can’t watch TV.
What do I do without TV to occupy my child? I can’t imagine.
And a few more of her excellent articles on the subject of TV, reading, creativity and the value of boredom:
Raise a Child Who Loves to Read
5 Star Children’s Books
Nurturing Your Child’s Creativity
Why Boredom is Good for Your Child