It’s not called the goggle box for nothing. TV is typically thought of as a killer of kids imagination and creativity. Sure is no substitute for school learning, but there’s no need to ban it altogether.
“Some people are religious about having zero TV for their kids, and they don’t even have a TV set In their house,” says Clarinda Choh, the principal of The Keys Academy, who also has a 13-year-old son. “I feel we don’t need to be so hardcore about saying no to TV. Education can be greatly supported by TV, if curated sensibly. There are some great programmes out there now.”
Henrietta Hurford-Jones, Director of Children’s at BBC Worldwide. says when selecting programmes for kids to watch, “there should always be some form of nourishment. Some shows are purely for entertainment or comedy, and some provide social and emotional learning opportunities, she says.
For Clarinda, TV shows for kids should cover a range of subjects, and use good language. “Parents should also he concerned about the perspectives and values presented. We should educate children to sift through all the noise. and learn what had content they should ignore.”
Henrietta says kids’ TV programmes are often designed with the help of child development experts, who understand how to get children to learn through watching episodes. “The positive side of TV is that It can stimulate children’s imaginations.’ says Henrietta. “It teaches them about the world, and has characters. both animated and real. that kids can relate to. Children can learn soft social skills from TV programmes, which help them develop their EQ (emotional quotient).
“For example, Sarah and Duck from the CBeebies kids channel is about the adventures of three-year-old Sarah. The show looks at the world from a child’s point of view, and kids identify with the characters and feel they have friends who understand them.”
Clarinda says that seeing good examples of socialisation from TV can be beneficial for Iittle ones. “It’s all about positive role modelling. If you are watching a programme with them and see instances of someone being empathetic, or giving a great speech, use that as a learning opportunity for them. Out kids are way smarter than we give them credit for.”
TV shows billed as educational are also common. teaching everything from maths and science to arts and seal’s, geography and history. They serve as teaching aids in school, and many parents also encourage their children to watch them. in order to boost their IQ.
“Certainly. kids can learn through some TV shows. We try to present knowledge in an interesting way: for example, we’ll tell kids how many giraffes we can stack up, to reach all the way up to the Eiffel Tower,” says Henrietta.
Still, it’s not necessary for kids to watch purely educational TV shows all the time. ”They’re already going to do all of that in school, so why don’t you watch something else?’ says Clarinda. “If your child is going to learn about math or science, why not watch a programme that talks about the application of it? Documentaries can also he educational.”
With tablets and mobile phones, TV is no longer watched only at the home, but experts caution against allowing kids too much screen time. ‘Generally, doctors will tell you that for two hours of screen time a child has, you break that up with an outdoor activity,” says Clarinda. “For me, I allowed my son no more than half an hour of TV each time as a preschooler, and an hour when he became older.”
Clarinda feels TV time can be too much when a child starts to whine for it. “It’s now a common sight that the moment a family enters a restaurant. they take out either a phone or tablet put it there and let their kids watch a programme. People say It’s so that they can have their dinner in peace. and I understand that, but that might be a bit dangerous if we are making the assumption that the child can’t learn the ability to interact and have conversations. As an educator and parent, I would be concerned.” She feels we should let children learn through interactions and outdoor play too, as nothing beats having them sweat it out through exercise.
Henrietta adds that even with the educational benefits of watching TV, parents should be careful to make sure their kids are not watching inappropriate sexual or violent content, as it can be easy for children to discover it on their own. “It’s important to have supervised time; don’t just leave them to watch anything they want. It’s our duty as a society, and as parents, to help kids understand what they’re seeing on screen, and ensure they are getting the right nourishment from it.”