The Negative Effects of Watching Television

Giving too much time to children watching television hinder their language and social development.  Children that are continuously exposed to mass media are experiencing problems in their language acquisition and social skills Sumalinog (2019). These children have speech delay problems and have issues in socializing with others. They tend to ignore people around them and have shown social anxiety.

Watching television is a practice of one-way communication. Communication happens when there is a sender and receiver. In this case, the sender of the message is always the television while the receiver of the message is always the child.

The first problem in this type of communication process is the decoding and feedback barrier. Decoding and feedback barrier occurs when the child respond to the television but the television is unable to give feedback to the child. As a result, the child will either be discouraged to practice articulating words or will continuously use the wrong pronunciation of words. The second problem in this communication process is the psychosocial barrier that happens due to the absence of emotion and affection of the television. Television cannot give love, care and does not promote social interaction. As a consequence, spending too much time in watching television develops the child’s unresponsiveness, lack of affection and the feeling of being socially isolated to other children.

Other theories can also explain the reasons why too much watching television affects the language acquisition and social skills of the children. The interaction theory of language acquisition (Gerome Bruner) stipulates that interaction between children and parents provides opportunities to the children to acquire language. Similarly, the behaviorists theory of language acquisition (B.F. Skinner) postulates that children learn language through imitation and feedback from adults. Both of the theory suggest that there must be presence of feedback to reinforce the development of the language and social skills. Based from these theories language acquisition would require two-way interaction wherein the children have the chance to encode, decode and be corrected. These conditions are not present in the television-child communication process.

To resolve the problem of social isolation and language acquisition, simply reduce the time for watching television. This was confirmed and shown in the case study of the Mars Sumalinog about two students who are experiencing the same problem. These pupils are coded as Learner A and Learner B. Learner A is one year older the learner B. Both of them are male and have the same findings from their developmental pediatricians which calls for language improvement and socialization exposure. Both of their parents were asked to lessen the time of exposure of their children to television. The parent of Learner A did not follow the suggestion of the researcher while the parents of learner B consistently and religiously implement the recommendation.

After one year, learner A has shown no improvement in his language and social skills. However, learner B show significant improvement in his speech and interpersonal skills. The learner is now able to speak and pronounce most of the words. He was able to start interacting with others and begin to say polite. It is important to note that learner B is one year younger than learner A and yet he was able to improve his language and social skills. Other factors may contribute to the development of the child’s language and social skills but significantly one of the reasons for his development is the reduction of time for watching television. Thus, reducing the time of the learners for watching television and continuously involving the learner to conversation will help them develop their language and social skills.

By        Mars G. Sumalinog
    Special Education Teacher I
   Malaybalay City Central School