We all know that schools, daycares, babysitters, and preschools allow children to watch television at some point to some extent. The question is should they?
I am guilty. My kindergarten students do not watch television in my class on a daily basis. However, I have used the television for several different reasons. I have shown videos pertaining to our lesson as an instructional method. I have also used television as a treat for students during our daily snack time. In addition to these reasons, yes I have used it as a babysitter. Please let me explain!! Kindergarten children do not have the skills to complete many tasks without direct supervision- especially for an extended time of over five minutes. During the periods of the year when I am required to give assessments that must be individually administered such as the DIBELS tests or our report card, I have “popped in” a video. I have also been into several daycares when children were watching either a television show or a video.
Psychologists have found that using a television in the classroom can actually be harmful to a child’s academic achievement.
According to the UK press, Aric Sigman has carried out a study on the television in schools. In his study, he compared private schools with public schools. Sigman found that in the schools where money is not an issue to teachers, teachers use television less. This I found quite intriguing. Is it that the teachers have more resources and do not have to depend on a television as technology? I also wonder if money is no object then are the class sizes smaller? In this case, I can see that during my individual testing days I would not need a video. Thirteen or fifteen children could play or complete an activity much quieter than twenty-one. Sigman’s study differed from my current circumstances in that his study was carried out with junior and senior schools such as Westminster, St. Paul’s, Bedales, and Winchester. Sigman questions if schools should be adding to the time that children are sitting in front of a television. He says that British children spend 55% of their awake time watching television. This percentage does not include any television watched during school. Dr. Sigman will be talking at the Children and media conference held in April. He also has a book Remotely Controlled: how television is damaging our lives.
I agree that it is probably not the best idea to use television at school or even at home with your children. I am totally against television in the classroom on a regular basis if it is used during instruction hours. However, my school has a school-wide recess for fifteen minutes each day. This is a break for the children. No instruction takes place during this time. When the weather does not allow outside time, the students stay in the classroom and a monitor walks the hall. I do not see a problem with students being allowed to watch cartoons during this time.