The advent of Baby Einstein videos, videos that promise to teach your child to read, and the ongoing popularity of Sesame Street has many parents believing that the real problem with television is that it’s not educational enough, and that educational television can be a beneficial way for children to learn important life skills. Unfortunately, the rampant use of educational television to teach children skills they should be learning from family, friends, and teachers can backfire, and educational television is typically no better for children than normal television. Here’s why you should not allow your child to be watching educational television:
It May Not Be Educational
There are no standards for when a television program is permitted to be classified as educational. Which means a show that devotes 50 minutes to action, cartoons, and fighting can be educational if it incorporates a brief tutorial in counting. The trend in children’s television right now is moving toward educational television, which means most shows are trying to find some way to bill themselves as educational, even if they’re not.
It Takes Away From Other Activities
just like other forms of television, educational television forces your child to sit passively rather than play outside, interact with family members, engage in trial and error, or experiment with how to play with toys. If your child is watching lots of television each day, it doesn’t matter if this television is “educational” or not- it’s taking away from normal activities
This Is Not How Children Learn
We send kids to school at six or seven for a reason- that’s when they’re ready for it. Very young children learn through direct engagement, through trial and error, and through being exposed to a wide variety of environments and skills. They do not learn by sitting and being taught.
The Importance of Social Skills and Personality Development
Television, even educational television, is one sided. The television talks and your child listens. Children develop their talents and their personalities through interactions with others, and through watching real interactions, not via television tutorials or watching interactions on tv. Children who are exposed to too much television from an early age tend to be less socially adept, less empathetic, and less primed to learn from their environment.
Alternatives to Television
Many parents are interested in educational television because they believe educational tv will give their children an advantage by helping them to read, write, or learn music. The reality is that children who are gifted in these areas have learned not through television but through experience, and this remains the best way to teach your child a skill. Reading to your child, singing the ABC’s together, listening to music, or teaching them about what lives outside are much better ways to help your child learn music, reading, writing, or science than television.