If you are one of the millions of parents or grandparents that have children and allow them to sit for hours in front of the television, you might want to reconsider letting them do so. While many people agree the influence television programming can have detrimental effects of the minds of children, many people are not aware of the actual physical damage that could be occurring to the brain structure as well. Studies have shown the development of grey matter in the sides and front of the head, the frontopolar cortex part of the brain. Essentially, the child sitting in front of a television is not getting the cognitive development a child reading or engaging in physical activities would get.
The Japanese conducted a study with over two hundred and fifty children in it. Of these children, some were allowed to watch television for up to four hours at a time while others did not watch any television. On average in this study, children watched two hours of television. Brain scans using magnetic resonance imaging showed the children that watched the most television had more grey matter in the frontopolar cortex than the children that did not.
The important aspect of this study to remember is how the increased frontal lobe matter affects the development of speech and verbal intelligence. Experts feel this part of the brain should be, in a sense, pruned to maintain optimum efficiency. This type of ‘pruning’ must take place during childhood for correct developmental reasons.
When watching television, a child’s brain is not challenged to think cognitively. For example, listening music or playing a board game provides reasons to think and to create scenarios. Another example is how one can read a book and see the characters and setting in their mind. If you watched the same story on television, the characters and setting are provided for you, leaving your brain no room to create and think about it. In other words, the child watching too much television does have the stimuli necessary for healthy brain exercise.
Today, many parents and guardians might feel the educational programming on children’s television programs is good for children to watch. While these programs do provide great educational information, watching them for hours at a time is not recommended. Ensuring your child gets the best educational foundations starts with you making sure his or her time is divided between many educational activities.