Effects of Television on Cognitive Development - Essay Example

Published: 2021-08-10
691 words
3 pages
6 min to read
Sewanee University of the South
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Watching television has become an inescapable reality of modern childhood, with children at every stage spending numerous hours in front of electronic screens. This is not always a negative thing given that they have to view educational programs on TV shows. Watching also gives the parents a break from constant attention to their children. However, there are a good number of studies that link delay in cognitive development to the extended exposure of the children to electronic media (Lin et al., 2015). Therefore, too much TV watching can compromise the cognitive development of a child.

Parents who consider screen time as a way to expose their children to educational edges are doing more harm than good. This is because, research done by the Britains Royal Society of Medicine indicate that too much TV watching can unintentionally create permanent damage to the still-developing brain of the child (Lin et al., 2015). Too much screen time is thus the very thing that impedes the development abilities that most parents are constantly trying to foster in the children. Specifically, too much screen time hamper the childs ability to concentrate, focus, lend attention and build large vocabulary base (Lin et al., 2015).

Before the age of three, childrens brains develop at the highest rate, and the development is controlled by the environment around them. This time is called the critical period because the changes that occur in the brain at such tender years become the permanent foundation on which all other brain functions will be built (Napier, 2014).For normal development of brains neural network to effectively occur, all children need specific stimuli from the environment. The challenge comes from the fact that the needed stimuli cannot be sourced from TV watching. Children below the age of three thus require enough time with the real world to enhance their cognitive developments (Napier, 2014).

Children exposed to too much watching also have trouble making friends. This is because their brains frontal lobe will not fully develop due to lack of exposure to the real world. This part of the brain is needed for decoding and comprehending the social interactions. It is the part of the brain that enables people to empathize with others, learn how to read millions of unspoken signs such as tone of voices, and facial expression and understand the nonverbal cues with interacting with friends (Pempek, Kirkorian, & Anderson, 2014). The development of frontal lobe occurs during childhood, and it is entirely dependent on authentic human interactions. So if the child spends an unregulated amount of time watching, his or her empathic ability will be dulled for good.

There is an example of research that was conducted to determine the effects of television watching on brain development based on home and school inputs. The researchers noted that children aged nine years with more than 10 children books at home watched television for 1.5 fewer hours. Such children scored more points in math, 11.2 points and more points in reading, 12.1, as compared with children of the same age but with fewer books at home (Pempek, Kirkorian, & Anderson, 2014). Additionally, children whose parents read story books for at least three times a week and those who discuss television programs with their guardians spent less time watching and obtained higher tests scores.


Specifically, too much screen time hamper the childs ability to concentrate, focus, lend attention and build large vocabulary base. Also, if a child spends un-regulated amount of time watching, his or her empathic ability will be dulled for good. Therefore, too much TV watching compromises the cognitive development of a child.


Lin, L. Y., Cherng, R. J., Chen, Y. J., Chen, Y. J., & Yang, H. M. (2015). Effects of television exposure on developmental skills among young children. Infant behavior and development, 38, 20-26.

Napier, C. (2014). How use of screen media affects the emotional development of infants: Carole Napier undertook a literature review to explore the research into the effects of watching television and other electronic devices on parent-child interactions. Primary Health Care, 24(2), 18-25.

Pempek, T. A., Kirkorian, H. L., & Anderson, D. R. (2014). The effects of background television on the quantity and quality of child-directed speech by parents. Journal of Children and Media, 8(3), 211-222.

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