Bay of Plenty Times 11 June 2012
Children under 3 should not be watching any television and those up to 7 should be limited to 30 minutes a day, says a Bay of Plenty child pyschotherapist. Parents are jeopardising their children’s futures, Augustina Driessen says, by allowing them to vegetate in front of the television for hours a day. Mrs Driessen believed up to 75 per cent of children could be suffering problems associated with media overload. She said children were becoming monosyllabic and introverted through addiction to television, and urged parents not to take the easy option.
Bob McCoskrie, national director of Family First NZ, agrees. “One of our major concerns is that the 8.30pm watershed for families is just a farce. There is sexual content, foul language and sexual innuendo in programmes as early as 5.30pm. Also adult-rated programmes are being promoted during the kids’ viewing times, which is simply wrong. There have been plenty of studies which show the adverse affects on children of prolonged exposure to violence and sexual content. “TVs in bedrooms are just asking for trouble. Would you let an adult sit and talk, unsupervised, to your child about absolutely anything? No, yet we let TV do it. We shouldn’t let TV be the babysitter.” Mr McCoskrie, who has a home in Mount Maunganui, said television could open children up to new areas of learning but asked at what cost. “TV can give opportunities, that’s agreed, but I think the question I would ask is what are children giving up when they are sat in front of a TV? They’re missing out on playing outside, reading books, doing homework, being creative, getting fit and interacting with other people, person-to-person, face-to-face.” But Geoff Lealand, associate professor of screen and media studies at Waikato University, said concentrating on television could blind people to more important issues. “Worrying excessively about the alleged effects of television often deflects attention from more significant factors in children’s lives, such as poverty, poor nutrition, inadequate parenting and that can be a problem.”