If You Box Clever, TV Won't Do Your Kids Any Harm; Our Children Are Watching Too Much Television,it's Been Claimed. but Gareth Bicknell Talks to a Woman Who Says TV Can Be Beneficial

Article excerpt

Byline: Gareth Bicknell

MORE than eight in 10 children aged six and under are already dangerously close to becoming part of the square-eyed generation and are glued to the telly for up to six hours a day new research reveals.

The news,from an NOP survey of 750 parents,comes just days after David Bell, theChief Inspector of Schools,blamed parents for their lack of discipline in the home.

Bell says many mums and dads are happy to plonk children in front of the television rather than talking or playing with them -leading to youngsters behaving poorly in school and being slow to develop social skills.

So should parents who want to do the right thing take the draconian route and ban their children from watching television altogether or force their little ones to watch only educational programmes,or avoid the waterworks,cross their fingers and leave kids to their own devices?

Dr Merris Griffiths, who works in the department of film, theatre and television at the University of Wales, Aberystwyth,has researched the effects of advertising on children. She says we should be wary of assuming our children are spending too much time sat in front of the box.

``Everything you hear about children watching television seems to be almost a knee-jerk reaction,'' she says.``People say they watch too much TV,but it's a bit more complicated than that.It's a question of how much attention the child actually pays to what's on the screen. Even though the TV might be on for six hours a day, there's no guarantee the child is actually watching it for six hours a day.''

But are children missing out on the benefits of ``playing out'' -enjoying healthy,active lifestyles and boosting their social skills by interacting with other children?Dr Griffiths doesn't think so.

``People worry that watching televsion is becoming a substitute for socialising for many children. But here in Wales they probably spend far more time outside than they do indoors,'' she says.

``These days it's better to think about television being central to a child's social development anyway. They get together in school and have quite in depth discussions about what they watched on television the night before. It's through being aware of what is happening in certain programmes that children are able to fit in with and interact with their peer group, soit's very beneficial in that way.

``A common criticism is that children are turning into couch potatoes,but it has a lot to do with family lifestyle as well as what the child chooses to watch. …