Today’s children do not simply derive pleasure from TV and the Internet – they have become addicted to them, a habit which can cause long-term damage not just to children but to their parents as well.
The National Consumer Council of England’s report on an in-depth study of several cases reveals that Television and the Internet are often making children disruptive, disrespectful and greedy.
Such children argue more often with older members of the family; furthermore they have a lower opinion of their parents and lower self-esteem. They regard themselves as wiser and cleverer than their parents, whose advice they never heed. They consider their parents and the elder relatives to be both conventional and illiterate and they try to avoid one-to-one encounters with them.
Children addicted to TV and the Internet are increasingly exposed to aggressively targeted advertising. Such advertising has strengthened social divisions between young and old. The report also reveals that socially deprived children who are more likely to watch commercial television as well as programmes meant for a more adult audience are increasingly exposed to advertisements which are inappropriate for their age group.
It further reveals that more than 50% of the children from the dis-advantaged areas think that when they have grown up and become rich or earn enough they will be happier because they will be able to buy the things of their choice.
When they start earning or when they undertake some part-time work, almost 50% of the children from deprived areas don’t give money to their parents, but think it better to spend it on themselves, their choice of purchases being influenced by the goods they have seen in TV advertisements which their parents refused to buy for them.
In some houses the TV screen appears to be a constant presence during meal times. In disadvantaged areas, children are very much more likely to watch TV during the weekday evening meals, and 25% watch TV programmes during lunchtime on Sundays and other holidays as compared to only 5% from less deprived neighbourhoods.
Government action is needed to control advertisements for junk foods and other products especially during the times when children are at home.
Free use of computers with internet access encourages children get online unsupervised, thereby increasing the chances of their visiting unsuitable websites. Alluring adverts of expensive items encourage the children to attempt to the reach to the final stage but it results in waste of time and energy.
Games on the Internet are another hindrance to the development of children’s minds when they give more time to these than their studies. They disguise their participation in certain games as home work where parents are unknown or they never bother to go into detail.
Children who spend much of their time in front of the TV and on the Internet have been found to be more materialistic and in the longer term less likely to obey their parents at home and teachers at school.