Wednesday, January 23, 2008

The need for better children's television

I didn't think I'd be doing a post on TV again quite so soon but couldn't help but notice this interesting article in today's Sydney Morning Herald. It argues quite rightly that there is a need for quality television. I'm thankful that there is some good television for children, much of which is on public broadcasting networks like the ABC in Australia and BBC in the UK. Any parent of preschool children will testify to the usefulness and importance of a limited amount of television. The article also makes some similar comments to those in my last post about the changing nature of television viewing.

In my last post I hope I didn't give the impression that television is all bad. Of course it isn't. Just two quick comments on this. First, children (and adults) learn lots of things from television and using the internet. Second, shared viewing of television (or even computer use and gaming) can be very significant for building relationships with others. Good TV can be part of the shared experience that gives parents and their children, and children and their friends some common ground on which to build positive relationships. In a sense the role that good TV plays can be very similar to good books, music and other shared experiences.
The Canadian Media Awareness Network that I mentioned in my last post has some useful thoughts on the benefits of television.

Of course, for parents, the concern is with the quality of what our children view and the need to ensure that TV and computer use doesn't become so dominant that other things suffer. Things like play outside, strong physical activity (especially for boys), human interaction and so on. This is the challenge, to ensure balance in our children's lives.

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