Lately, the effects of inappropriate TV programs on (our) children has been bugging my mind so much that I had to pour it out here. Please accept my apology in advance for the lengthy post and do try to endure till the last paragraph.
Last week Thursday, on our way to school, we got stopped -routinely by the FRSC (Federal Road Safety Corps) and after all the paper checks…fire extinguisher..spare tire checks, we were naturally allowed to go.
Now, I always try to be law-abiding and provide whatever they request while trying hard to mask my impatience at the selective routine inspections. The criterion for the ‘random’ selection of vehicles to check would never be clear and the reasons for turning blind eyes to the daredevil, rickety damfos (buses) with the conductors hanging onto the back in
suicide bond style would never be understood.
But these men in brown uniform and black hats / caps do their job damn well, spending more-than-a-reasonable amount of time on women rushing to work with a couple of kids strapped in at the back, wondering why we get stopped at the same spot every week.
“Maybe they thought you killed somebody and put the body ‘inside’ the booth of our car”
I was ‘slapped’ out of my reverie by the voice of you-know-who (D1) from the back seat.
Where on earth did that line of thought come from.
“I saw it on DSTV Africa Magic now”
Another day. Another time.
“I am really afraid of guns.”
Where did you see guns and why would you be afraid?
“I saw a man trying to kill a woman with a gun.”
Yet another day. Another time.
“Why are men always beating their wives on Africa Magic?”
Okay, I get it.
It’s no longer about Africa Magic. Anymore.
it’s about me. About us.
We’ve got to remedy the situation. Enough of allowing them ‘stumble’ on programs that are so
morally unokay. Not that those programs are unokay completely but the ‘morals’ are usually lost on their young minds and the bad ones linger on (with no filters in place).
They are aware of the inappropriateness of hitting another human but when it is consistently fed and reinforced through TV channels / programs, they might get to a point where it is even cool to ‘harmlessly’ practice what they see.
Seriously, I am tempted to permanently ban watching Nollywood but even a mama needs her comic fixes sometimes. Be that as it may, it really is time to pay more attention to ‘intentional censoring’ and encouraging something more uplifting / educating (like NatGeoWild.)
The likely effects of inappropriate TV programs on children vary from child to child but they cannot be overlooked or underestimated.
From my experience, our kids are in jeopardy of the following:
FEAR / WRONG VALUES
My little man -D2 is so scared that he wouldn’t venture down the short lit-up corridor into the tiny lit-up kitchen alone to get mummy some water, at night just because a ‘ghost’ dabbed in white talcum, draped in white bedsheet (as seen on Africa Magic Yoruba) is lurking somewhere there, waiting to spring on him.
Yeah, I agree…it’s all my fault.
My older boy is always hyper-alert after watching certain news on CNN, every time. Last time, he had a hard time understanding why God ‘decided’ to flood ‘America’ after His promises to Noah never to do so again!
Of course we explained and put it in perspective for him. Or we tried.
Now add that to the images of men drawing guns on each other to settle disputes, pummeling women, hiding human bodies to go bury somewhere in the thick of the night to cover up crimes, and the list goes on and on. The mess is real.
Some of these violent scenes do not seriously show the moral side and the innocent viewers are left hanging off the cliff; they are left to fill in the gaps without an adult explaining what just happened.
I mean the real harm fails to shine through the story line whether by accident or design of the directors.
Sometimes, the storylines are muddled and executions of same leaves even grown-up me bewildered at best.
I. Don’t. Want. This. Ever. Again.
The problems that may occur as a result of allowing these programs are numerous and they may last a lifetime if care is not taken. Beyond the violent portrayal of relationships on the Screen, it also appears, lately, that we cannot turn on the TV without stumbling on some sort of intimate scenes or inappropriate scenes for young children. Except we start living and breathing football. Or NatGeoWild.
Studies have shown that violence on TV has adverse effects on children as well as adults. As an adult, you could never get me to watch scary scenes at night and most times, the way ghosts are depicted in Nigerian Film industry gives me nightmares so I shy away from such terrible movies / channels and try as much as possible to steer my children away from such.
Considering that children are highly impressionable and learn from things around them, experience and role modelling, thoughts need to be given to this crucial aspect. For most part, young children have difficulties differentiating or understanding what is real and make believe. Like my kids wanted to fly and emulate Spidey.
They believed superheroes are real, now can you beat that?
I know they are, but not in the fashion of the heroes portrayed on our screens.
UNDUE EXPOSURE TO VIOLENCE
This links back to point 1 as undue exposure to violence creates fear.
We know that mostly, children learn from what they see, experience and role modeling.
When children, especially the ‘young’ ones, see violence on television, they have a difficult time differentiating between what is real and what is make believe, and might end up trying to emulate or copy what they see.
A 1982 report by the National Institute of Mental Health further buttressed the fact that violence can impact our children negatively by creating fear such as mentioned earlier on in this post, becoming aggressive towards others among other effects.
Research also shows that there is a chemical change in the brain akin to that seen in post-traumatic stress disorder; if enough violence is viewed, the brain reacts as if the person doing the viewing has actually been abused.
Bear in mind that the brain of children who watch violence and inappropriate programs on television are still developing.
Summarily, violence on TV might lead to:
- Children being psychologically impacted by having less empathy which is one of the characteristics of of bullies.
- Children seeing problem solving through aggressive strategies as ‘the’ option instead of peaceful conflicts resolutions
- Children becoming more reactive rather then proactive
- Children appearing to be more fearful of social relationships
- Children becoming argumentative, etc
I also read somewhere that young children who watch violent programs on TV are in great danger of becoming violent themselves as teenagers, and tend to have more encounters with the law as adults.
I know we all definitely do not want to raise monsters.
What can we (parents) do about it?
There a number of measures we can take which include but not limited to:
MONITOR / MODERATE TV VIEWING
We wear the ‘big pants’ and that gives us the power to control and monitor whatever is on the screen or what they watch per time, as much as we can.
This is partly why I do not subscribe to the idea of having TVs in the children’s room.
Monitoring their screen activities does not stop at just allowing them sit in on appropriate programs, it extends to us sitting with them as much as we can in order to see part or all of what they are watching. This way, probabilities of ‘slip-ups’ occurring in between programs is reduced. Slip-ups such as erotic movie adverts, etc
This may be a tad ‘difficult’ due to circumstances but if it’s important, we’ll find a way round it. Gone are the days TVs are used to ‘baby-sit’ or ‘kid-sit’ while we hustle around doing chores.
We can and should set rules in place for TV watching, when, how and what.
As part of instilling discipline in the house, we allow the kids watch cartoons (some cartoons are also inappropriate as we’ve come to realize) only during the weekends and we have adhered to this for as long as I can remember. This can also be extended to scheduling what they watch on other channels during the week.
BE FIRM AND EXPLAIN CONTENTS
D2 loves watching wrestling and he got us to tune and watch it together a couple of nights ago. Not more than 2 minutes later, I felt enough was enough as I could not stomach the seeming violence anymore. Although hubby explained to them both that what they were watching was ‘make-believe’ and the wrestlers were actors acting out a script but we decided to firm up amidst the whinning. The channel was changed and we got to sit through news about Donald Trump, Hilary Clinton, the cacauses, etc etc.
Who else is monitoring the Elections with the attending dramas?
Repetitive violence can be entertaining as much as it is disturbing and we do not want this imprinted on our kids’ brains, we should learn to say no to inappropriate TV programs even in the face of the sweetest blackmail or the loudest whining and whinging.
We should encourage our children to watch more inspiring channels (think NatGeoWild, Discovery Channel, etc) that educates and enlightens if they have to sit in front of the TV at all. And we should also try to encourage them to spend time away from the TV, time that could be put to good use such as crafting together, reading, writing, etc.
We would also do well to model what we expect of them. That is why I would not want to sit all day watching two adults kissing on TV or two adults breaking their heads or doing crime or ghosts dabbed with talcum powder, draped in white curtains chasing people all around. Instead, we should lead the path to a healthier and interactive sessions bonding over appropriate contents.
These are by no means exhaustive and you are free to add or ‘unadd’..
Have you experienced any of the above or similar effects of inappropriate TV programs in your children?
How did you address them?
What steps are you taking to prevent these effects of inappropriate TV programs?
As a ‘fellow-work-in-progress’, I would really love to hear and learn from you in the comment section.
Finally, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things [are] honest, whatsoever things [are] just, whatsoever things [are] pure, whatsoever things [are] lovely, whatsoever things [are] of good report; if [there be] any virtue, and if [there be] any praise, think on these things.