TV — are your children at risk?

It seems for as long as television exists, we’ll be debating its effects on young and impressionable minds.

The Herald Sun article, Children at risk from too much TV, discusses a recent study by the Australian Research Alliance on Children and Youth (ARACY), which found parents are failing to responsibly control the viewing habits of their children.

While many parents are aware of the harmful effects TV can have on their kids, they don’t take appropriate measures in regulating the programs they watch, nor the hours they spend watching them. Rather, they see television and/or video games as babysitting devices.

Over the holidays I often found myself in restaurants and cafés surrounded by families. A disturbing trend I noticed was that almost every child had his/her head down at the table, transfixed by a ‘DS’ gaming console. Though all seated together, these family members were eating in isolation. Parents were not taking the opportunity to engage with their children outside of the family home. They also failed to recognise the opportunity to teach their children social skills that lay the foundations for the future.

More disturbing was when I was in a medical centre’s reception for several hours. In that time, I counted four children under the age of five years playing violent hand-held video games. The parents weren’t concerned because their children were engaged with media, which, while potentially damaging, rendered them silent.

It’s disappointing to learn that parents feel that such media, in particular TV shows that are violent, gendered, sexualised, and laden with advertising, are simply too ‘difficult to avoid’. Other key findings of the ARACY study included:

  • Today’s children are watching more unsupervised television than ever
  • Australian households contain an average of three televisions
  • 20% of children have a television in their bedrooms
  • Many children watch programs targeted exclusively at adult viewers
  • One in three Australian households has a TV on constantly
  • Children are engaged with television more than any other media, with kids under four watching 150 minutes a day

In response to the findings, ARACY chief executive, Lance Emerson, said: “It’s important to consider the program in relation to the development needs of the child, to set rules and expectations … and to take a positive role in discussing television content with children.”

Certainly, Mr Emerson makes some valid points. As both a psychologist and a father of five, I believe that whether we’re talking video games, TV, or any other form of media, parents must accept the fact that they are in the parenting business. That means establishing interpersonal and social skills in their children, and taking all necessary measures to ensure they are not exposed to inappropriate violence and/or sexual content. While this may often be ‘difficult’ in today’s society, parents must see this pursuit as a non-negotiable job requirement.

What is the best way to help the poor countries?

What is the best way to help the poor countries?
By Aleksandar Milenkovic

Poverty in countries around the world is no joke and first world or “rich” countries are trying to prevent this by donating money. One thing we all know is that money isn’t everything, however we still need it to survive.

Resources needed to help developing countries include land to grow crops. We also need clean water, also used for other purposes, such as to drink. Shelter and clothing must be provided to keep people comfortable and healthy. We also need electricity and animals (livestock). Without these they will starve and maybe die.

Secondly, for a country to develop we need schools, hospitals and clean water facilities to sustain the wellbeing of children and adults. They may be healthy but violence is another part of everyday life. To prevent this we need the police force, fire brigade and ambulances. Roads may be needed for quick access to various locations.

All of these things are needed but they won’t serve themselves. People such as agricultural farmers are needed at farms. Electricians, builder’s engineers and plumbers are also crucial to build better facilities. Doctors and nurses may be needed in a village or suburb to help people, and we also need police, firemen, paramedics and teachers to protect and educate civilians. We may need a mechanic after a car or tractor comes into the village but most important thing is we need a population.

As you can see we need a LOT of things to help developing countries and to keep them out of disastrous problems but we can still help. One thing we have learned is that we are lucky to live in Australia and that money isn’t everything!!

Why My Family is the Best by Bassel

Why My Family is the Best
By Bassel

My family is the best for many reasons, like supporting and looking after me. I have four wonderful people in my family. They will do anything for me, even if it includes dying.

Firstly, my mum, Ebtesam, cooks the best food for me with the most awesome herbs and spices. She cleans up after me. Even if she is exhausted and I want something, she will do it, no matter what it is. She will play with me even if she doesn’t enjoy it.

My sister, Yasmeen, takes me out to places she doesn’t want to go, like the footy.  When we go to the footy she barracks for Essendon for me. She would do anything to see me smile. She is always telling me how much she loves me. She is the best sister you could ask for.

My dad, Asem, is the most supportive person I know. He supports me in everything I do. My dad buys me lots of toys and games, which I earn. My dad plays tennis or PS3 with me every day and gives me lots of surprises.

My brother, Faisal, takes me to my favourite places. He takes me to the cinemas, the Melbourne Show and many more places I love. When he does take me out, he always buys me something no matter how much it is, which can sometimes be a problem. He also lends me lots of his stuff.

This is why I love my family. They’re perfect. I am so happy to have a family like this. I have the best family I could ask for. Even when my family buys me toys, they’re the best, because the love me.