Kids need to get up and move around more. For that matter, so do I, but for children being stationary for hours per day in front of a TV (or a computer) can set in stone habits that lead to obesity and long term health problems. Some studies also suggest kids who watch more television have poorer eating habits, and eat less healthy foods in general.
When children spend too much time watching television they do not get the right amount of socialization skills that they need to become productive well- rounded adults. In addition, they are most likely not spending that television time watching educational programs.
They also do not get the right amount of exercise that they need. Obesity is a problem in this country and I believe that watching too much television contributes to that. Obesity causes many self-esteem issues, especially in teens.
On the positive side, interactive TV is becoming very popular. I know many children who have the game system Wii and this is very interactive. They are able to dance, jog, or do just about any kind of sport and love playing with friends or family which is great. This of course does not beat going outside and exercising but it is better than sitting on the couch by yourself with a controller in your hand.
I think that the emphasis on television helps to bring a larger issue present in how kids interact with their world. Children are more likely to become more internally drawn in with so many amenities at their disposal. Computers with internet connections, online gaming, the proliferation of video games, as well as gadgets that allow connection with blinding speed and small size, and television helps to create an inwardly drawn sense of being in the world. Simply put, the older notion of kids playing outside until dark, or being more active by just running up and down the street block is becoming more and more rare. The fears of increased dependence on television would be that this disappears even more when kids are watching seven to ten hours of television a day. Their abilities to understand how to interact with people, resolve conflicts, and grasp the nuances of interpersonal connections decrease when television becomes the sole means by which these messages are filtered.
The most usual arguments about health issues arising from television are these two:
- Watching TV makes kids more sedentary. They just sit around all day instead of running around and playing and burning off calories.
- Watching TV exposes kids to lots of ads for unhealthy foods and soda.
As far as behavior goes, the most usual argument you hear is that watching TV makes kids more violent. This argument says that kids see so many depictions of violence on TV that they think violence is normal and they engage in violent behavior.