How Does Media Affect the Social and Cognitive Development of Children in the U.S?

The contemporary world changes the way people grow up and spend their time, as a result, “a national survey in the US found that children aged 8 to 18 years had an average media usage time of 7 hours and 38 minutes every day” (Agarwal and Dhanasekaran 38). These numbers are dreadful to people who understand how the human mind is affected by media. All over the US, parents yield to their children and let them watch hours of TV or play games on tablets without thoughts about the possible consequences. Most people do not understand the danger of media because they don’t see the instant outcome, but what they need to think of are long-term effects. Media influences modern children from birth, which makes them different from the previous generations. The difference is not always negative, but while the subject is being researched, scientists have found both adverse and useful effects of TV and tablets. Mainly, parents use media instead of the nursemaid to watch kids, justifying their choice by the lack of time and absence of danger for their children. However, they are wrong, as media usage should be supervised by the parent to create healthy conditions for the child. Uncontrolled media usage can negatively influence children’s social and cognitive skills, which is why it is crucial to understand the dangers of TV and internet exposure on kids.

Many studies show an explicit description of the adverse effects that can be caused by media to the child’s cognitive skills. Even though children can sometimes learn new information watching TV, they still will suffer from undesirable consequences. The study indicates that children who were more exposed by TV in the age from six to 14 months, showed worse results taking intellectual tests than those who were spending time with their parents (Tomopoulos et al. 7). Undoubtedly, time spent with the adults will be more healthy than any media influence, as guardians can not only share their knowledge but also develop the ability of the kid to think faster and have a dynamic mind. The research shows that there are many cases when “children who were exposed to more than two hours of television per day had delayed communication scores on the Ages and Stages Developmental Questionnaire” (Dauw 34). Consequently, children who are allowed to watch much TV have slowed cognitive development and difficulties with communication, as they are not accustomed to the dynamic environment. The points mentioned above prove that uncontrolled TV exposure of kids younger than five years old negatively influences their cognitive abilities. The more hours children have been spending in front of the TV, the worse scores they receive taking developmental tests.

At the same time, unlimited media exposure of kids younger than five years old negatively impacts their social skills as well as cognitive. It has been proved that children who watch much TV and play games become more violent and less compassionate (Sengonul 378). Mainly, the reason for it is that young individuals have seen too much inappropriate for their age content. Children who were regularly watching TV are less likely to try stopping a fight of their fellows or younger kids. Following the study, “while 57% of the shows not targeting children contained violence, approximately 70% of children’s shows were quite violent” (Sengonul 370). As the majority of kids are not controlled while being affected by media, they watch every show they can, choosing the most hilarious and possibly violent. Also, it is known that people are using different models of the behavior they observe during their lifetime to form their personalities. Therefore, it is evident that children who watch many hours of the uncontrolled TV see the behavioral models which harm others and possibly could become more like them. The results of the research indicate many behavioral problems to which media can lead young individuals. Excess television watching leads to poor peer relationships and can increase the probability of social isolation, anxiety disorder, and agoraphobia (Agarwal & Dhanasekaran 41). It is proved that the more kids watch TV, the less time they spend with their peers, and the issue progresses while children age. As young individuals spend not much time with their friends, they become less socially active. They may develop an anxiety disorder as a result of being too far from the community.

Moreover, children’s emotions became less humane and bright because of constant media exposure and watching fictive feelings instead of feeling by themselves. Affected children are more likely to stay alone and have a difficult personality. The hours that the kid watched TV can become a reason for the adverse psychological issues in the future or at least difficulties in finding inner peace. Children think less when they are consumed by fictive TV or internet reality, as all the thoughts are introduced in the media. It is believed that “today’s young people are overwhelmed with experiences in their early childhood, which they cannot process” (Globokar 548). They start to stop feeling comfortable being alone or doing tasks without company or additional motivation. When the media exposes both parents and children, they stop connecting as much. Children do not connect with their relatives and do not receive as much love and communication as they need because of the media sources. Moreover, parents usually feel guilty when they need to give their kids a touch-screen device because they have a business to do. The constant negative feelings on the side of a tired parent combined with a massive exposure of media on kids can lead to unhealthy family relationships (Lee & Seo 563). The point is that parents affected by violent media images are angry at themselves for changing their kids and, as a result, could transfer that anger and despair back on the kids who are also influenced by the constant exposure of the TV. Consequently, daily exposure of media on both parents and children may lead to complicated relationships and disrupt the educational process. As a result, people have unstable personalities and an inability to socialize efficiently.

Furthermore, children become accustomed to TV and touch-screen devices, losing the ability to enjoy life, and, as a consequence, they suffer physically and mentally. The following premise can be proved by my own experience and the experiences of mothers who are acquainted with me. Recently the son of my friend needed to see the doctor because of the constant need to blink, which was a result of his passion for playing games. Also, it is not difficult to notice how children become less active and have no desire to talk or play after they have been affected by TV or games. Kids often do not want to be involved in any physical activity or speak with their parents when they have an alternative to use media channels. After the time of the media influence, kids become withdrawn and do not react as usual on the guardian’s certain words or actions. Sometimes I offer my kid a tablet when I need to go over my businesses, in spite of the feeling of guilt. My daughter may watch the improper video for her young psyche, and she may learn from unusual YouTube bloggers. Parents may ignore that, but when the media exposes both them and children, they stop connecting as much. The study that researched parent-infant relationships affected by media shows that “such maladaptive use has the potential to disrupt the parent-infant bond, because time meant for talking and singing, nurturing forms of touch, and first-play activities, is now replaced with electronic devices, and may ultimately lead to an insecure attachment style” (Courtney & Nowakowski-Sims 60). A friend of mine has a son who has been spending much time with the tablet for over five years since he was three years old. As a result, the kid became quiet and lost the need to socialize, closing himself from others. Because children are accustomed to being exposed by specific media channels at least an hour a day, it is difficult for kids to refuse them. Young individuals spend much time watching shows or playing games and as much time worrying that they are forbidden to do it, while they could interact with the world and enjoy life.

On the other hand, even though many parents think that it is reasonable to expose their children to TV and other media channels from an early age believing that it may be healthy, they are mistaken, because, actually, the more children watch TV or play with the tablets, the more damage it is doing to their mind and psyche. Media exposure should be supervised and limited by parents to avoid adverse effects on children. The parent needs to be with the kids while they are exposed to TV or tablets, “as children should be encouraged to criticize and analyze what they see in the media (“Impact of Media Use on Children and Youth” 305). People who favor educational shows and claim that they are useful for the development of a child are right only in case of children watching those for short periods and talking about them with a parent. At the time the guardian is not able to be present or somehow control media usage, children should not be allowed to be exposed by themselves. Even though adults may think that background television is not dangerous, it disrupts 12- and 24-month-old toy plays intensity or duration and reduces the quality of interactions with adults (Anderson & Subrahmanyam 58). Looking at the absence of the apparent instant consequences, parents may think that the time they leave their children in front of the TV or with the tablet to deal with their businesses will lead to nothing dangerous, but they are wrong. Unsupervised media usage can disrupt a child’s personality and influence their beliefs.

Considering all the pieces of evidence mentioned above, uncontrolled and unlimited media exposure of children before five years old can lead to future cognitive, social, and personality problems. Researches prove that kids who watch TV daily and more than one hour show worse results at the tests of different ages. The cognitive development of the child progresses at a low speed while being exposed to simple media shows or games. Besides, the kid becomes less socially active, avoiding contact with peers or parents, preferring the company of the TV or tablet. Obviously, with age, it becomes difficult for the children to contact others even if they start to want it because they are not accustomed to the constant communication, as kids nowadays often quietly absorb information from the device. Equally important, the fact that behavioral and psychological problems can also endanger young individuals because of the usual types of TV content and games. Every year humanity becomes more dependent on the media, and only a small number of people notice how electronic devices affect children. Every day thousands of moms leave their little kids in front of the TV or with their tablets for more than two hours. At the same time, the studies have shown that children exposed in such a way show delays in development and do not have a desire to socialize. Parents allow children to watch so much TV to have time for their businesses, but this time will cost their kids’ future.

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Works Cited

Agarwal, Vivek, and Saranya Dhanasekaran. “Harmful Effects of Media on Children and Adolescents.” Journal of Indian Association for Child & Adolescent Mental Health, vol. 8, no. 2, Apr. 2012. Academic Search Complete,

Anderson, Daniel R., and Kaveri Subrahmanyam. “Digital Screen Media and Cognitive Development.” Pediatrics, vol. 140, no. Supplement 2, 2017

Courtney, Janet, and Eva Nowakowski-Sims. “Technology’s Impact on the Parent-Infant Attachment Relationship: Intervening Through Firstplay Therapy.” International Journal of Play Therapy, vol. 28, no. 2, Apr. 2019, pp. 57–68. PsycARTICLES

Dauw, Jessica M. “Screen Time and the Effects on Development for Children Ages Birth to Five Years” Culminating Projects in Child and Family Studies, vol. 7, Dec. 2016,

Globokar, Roman. “Impact of Digital Media on Emotional, Social and Moral Development of Children.” Nova Prisutnost, XVI, no. 3, 2018, pp. 545–560.

“Impact of Media Use on Children and Youth.” Pediatrics & Child Health, May 2003,

Lee, Claire Shinhea, and Hogeun Seo. “Emotion Matters: What Happens Between Young Children and Parents in a Touchscreen World.” International Journal of Communication, 2017. Literature Resource Center

Tomopoulos, Suzy, et al. “Infant Media Exposure and Toddler Development.” Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, vol. 164, no. 12, Jan. 2010

Sengonul, Turhan. “Negative Effects of Media on Children and Youth’ Socialization Process: A Study on Violent and Aggressive Behaviors.” Cukurova University Faculty of Education Journal, vol. 46, no. 2, Oct. 2017.

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