There is no doubt that television is one of the most powerful communication tools in the world. Its contemporary appeal makes it difficult to ignore. In fact, recent studies suggests that people depend on TV for entertainment, news, education, culture, weather, sports, and even music. But despite the possible benefits that it presents, TV consumption is heavily criticized in a negative way. Contrary to the thousands of people across the world who assume that watching television wastes time, the Broadcasting Commission of Jamaica (BCJ) supports objectivity in all spheres of our electronic communications industry and with free-to-air and cable TV, it is no different.
A 2011 Statistical Institute of Jamaica (STATIN) census survey confirms that over 87 percent of homes have one or more television sets. One of our goals at BCJ is to ensure that Jamaicans have access to content from diverse sources, on a variety of platforms and with more options of viewing TV available, we now have access to a plethora of content. These days, watching TV is an inevitable habit – especially for young children and teens. Recent studies into the dynamics of the viewing process of young children and teens say that rather than being passive screen gazers, they are active explorers of television content (Valkenburg, 2004; Livingston, 2002). But what does this mean? Our youth are developing more of the critical thinking skills they need to be active, engaged viewers.
As electronic media regulators, we often urge broadcasters to exercise creativity in programming. In all fairness, TV viewing can prove more beneficial than harmful. Here are some great ways that TV consumption can add value to youth of all ages.
Family Time! The people we care about the most, tend to be busy with daily routines. Have you considered setting aside specific time just for bonding with your child? Believe it or not watching TV together is an invaluable experience. Whether watching “Sesame Street” with younger children or enthusiastic predictions about the storyline of “Glee” with your teens; television can be a catalyst for family interaction and entertainment.
Educational TV programmes offer youth a chance to experience world cultures in an engaging way. Popular cable channels like National Geographic, Discovery, The History Channel, Food Network and PBS expose both younger children and teens to people and places they wouldn’t otherwise encounter in daily life. Even analysis of news and current events, introduces concepts that are complex and intellectually stimulating. This educational exposure helps to shape the interest of young minds with specific topics.
Inspiration. For young minds, watching TV in moderation can spark interests and even inspire further research on a topic. We encourage parents to engage children about television programmes. This is important because when a child sees something of interest or has questions about a particular topic, parents can give them a simple explanation for clarity. It can also teach younger children and teens important values and life lessons.
Foreign language. Ever noticed how Cable channels such as Cartoon Network, Nickelodeon and Boomerang have some programmes in spanish as well as some spanish advertisements? This helps non-native youths to develop an ‘ear’ for new languages. Likewise foreigners who are interested in learning English can learn from watching TV in the desired language.
Entertainment programmes In this evolving environment television can be the easiest source of entertainment. These programmes usually get you in a relaxed state after a long day. Teens like parents are attracted to health, fitness and lifestyle programmes especially when it includes other adolescent participants. This provides opportunities to reach and make a positive influence on teens’ knowledge and healthy lifestyle behaviours.
There is so much to explore when considering the benefits of TV consumption, including how it aids the social and cognitive development of young minds. By watching news channel, we get updated with the things going around the world. Channels, like Discovery, give information about Wildlife. Watching quiz shows can increase our knowledge. By watching the food channel, we can learn many recipes, good eating habits, and other health tips. Various reality shows can motivate people, who are interested in that field.
Yes, too much television can be harmful for children, but as we’ve shown; there is a happy medium for you and your family.