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Television & Child Development




Recent studies claim that, “extensive television viewing may be associated with violent or overly aggressive behaviour, poor academic performance, precocious sexuality, obesity, and the use of drugs or alcohol.”(Casey n.d. p1)But are these the only negative effects? If television is used incorrectly as an educational tool, it can hinder creative thinking in developing minds by destroying their ability to think independently. However, the reverse stands and television can be used to promote creativity in children. If the later is true, then how do we as teachers use television to promote this creativity?

Creative Education  

Television programs can be used to stimulate a child’s imagination by encouraging drawing, painting, imagination and creation through a leading example. The effectiveness of this technique can be seen in the Bobo experiments, (bobo experiment) where children are shown to learn by mimicking the actions of others. Children learn to interact with the show as the characters on screen encourage them to participate in various activities. A child seeing finger painting for the first time may find this new idea enticing and be drawn to it. In this case a new idea has shown not only how to paint, but has opened a door for curiosity in examining similar activities. As a result they are learning a tool that actively develops their creativity.

Academic Education  

This creativity is further developed in academic school curriculums, where, for example a child sees a volcano being built and erupting in a science show. Classroom activities can then be tailored to promote creativity relative to their interest, by allowing the class to build their own and observe the reactions taking place. In observing these reactions, a child’s curiosity may draw them to further investigate the applications. This self-motivation tends towards increased academic performance by moving the student to creatively explore the world around them.

Social Education

Television is a major part of our social development; it brings the world into our homes. Whether positive or negative, the large majority of our social education is learned from or around the television. As a result we need to critically evaluate what we see. “Careful selection, previewing and mediation combine to make children themselves discerning viewers who are far less likely to grow into 'couch potatoes', uncritically accepting of all they view, unable to distinguish between good and poor programs.” The classroom can be used as an educational tool to critically evaluate the social and cultural significance of individual programs. In learning about the social and cultural applications and being able to evaluate what we see, we create our own system of values. Our imagination then allows us to modify and/or create social conditions to suit particular needs and values. For example, if a child discovers how to make a card watching television and links this knowledge to the social context that giving this card to their mother will make her happy, then what they have learned on television has an immediate social application. By modifying these social conditions we are immediately relying on creativity.

In conclusion, one could confer that creative and academic thinking allows us to critically evaluate the social education we are given through and around television. Television promotes and encourages creative thought, mainly by giving us examples that stimulate the imagination. This makes students more likely to be self-motivated and explore the world creatively.

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