OP-ED

Satellite Channels Affect the Child’s Personality Negatively

National Yemen

Watching TV is a child common habit

Asma al-Mohattwari

“We do not believe there is anything sexist or violent about the World Wrestling Federation. I think it’s unfair of you to insinuate it when there are so many shows and so many different movies, and so many different social problems that really do contribute to violence in this country,” claimed UPN president Dean Valentine in 1999 after a 7-year-old child in Dallas killed his little brother with a clothesline maneuver he had seen on a wrestling show.

One fact should not be in dispute: TV is violent. Guns, shootings, murders, hitting, punching, slapping, screaming, kicking, stabbing, explosions, car chases, disasters, and death are shown daily throughout TV programs.

As a result of the rapid scientific and technological progress that has swept the world, recent years have seen the emergence of satellite channels that transform the world into a small global village linked by a communications network through the satellite. Satellite media power has grown and created competition between channels to attract viewers in front of the visual devices through the broadcasts of scientific, cultural, recreational, and ideological programs addressed to people of different ages. It is certainly more influential on children and adolescents as a result of the readiness of the psychological and biological changes associated with this population.

Social studies prove that children stay in front of television screens for up to dozens of hours. Children weekly spend more than 33 hours in the summer and 24 hours in the winter in front of the television. Research conducted on children confirmed that 74% of the total scenes in cartoon programs lead to criminal behavior, as 43% of these stories are derived from the imagination.

Najla al-Kazzan, a children’s psychologist at the University of Sana’a, said that when a child is born, more than one TV, a computer, and a VCR are waiting for them to become routine and familiar at home. “The appropriate time for children to watch television is hour to two hours a day and parents have to chose the suitable programs for children,” she said.

The risk of excessive TV viewing varies from one child to another and one society to another and children learn from TV series more than parents and society around them.  According to al-Kazzan, one of the most dangerous aspects are violence scenes that cause fear and night terrors, especially for children between 2 and 7 years, and sometimes children imitate the violence practice against their colleagues.

Al-Kazzan added that there is a possibility that children may be exposed to pornographic scenes or stations and that make them have sexual relations earlier than those who do not watch such scenes. “The real problem is that we find children along with their parents and their adult brothers and sisters watching adult programs such as movies, drama, and comedy. These films lead to the failure and corruption of members of the community, let alone a child who daily watches killings, beatings, horror, and romantic movies so they are understanding things before the normal age for that.”

Many advertisements and programs considered negative because they focus on beauty products and physical beauty, shifting kids’ interest from studies. They  pay more attention to their overall appearances. In extreme cases, they develop an inferiority or superiority complex, leading to depression and low self-esteem.

On the other hand, children who spend long hours watching the TV gain more weight and ignore school assignments. T. Seham, a teacher, said that children who watch television and browse the Internet tend to be obese and lack movement more than their peers. This proves the hypothesis of an inverse relationship between the time of television consumption and the balanced physical growth of the child. “Sitting in front of the television for long hours has been linked with obesity, as physical activity gets diminished considerably,” she added.

The reason for all the negatives effects of TV programs on the children is parents, for they are the only ones who can schedule their children’s time. To reduce these affects, Al-Kazzan suggested parents put a lot of books, magazines, and games in the TV room to attract children’s attention, not put the TV in the child’s bedroom, and prevent them from watching TV during meals and while studying, as well as practice sports with them and have trips on weekends.