Why watching TV is bad for your child's self-esteem

Most parents have heard about all of the bad side effects TV can potentially have on your kids, from hurting their eyes and rotting their brains to dilling their minds with all of the inappropriate behavior that is applauded and rewarded on reality shows these days.

Though there is still some debate over the truth behind those claims, a new study has confirmed that there is one surefire con to spending hours in front of the tube: Watching too much television leads to a decrease in the self-esteem of young girls and black boys.


The study's conclusions, which appear in Communication Research, shows results from a year-long examination of about 400 black and white preadolescent students in the Midwest. After investigating how much time they spent watching TV and how it impacted their self-esteem, they found that television exposure was responsible for a decrease in self-esteem in both white and black girls and black boys, but it actually led to an increase in self-esteem in white boys.

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The results basically prove that children who are spending much of their on the couch are also spending that time comparing themselves to what they're watching on screen. Perhaps even more significantly, they also highlight the ever present lack of diversity in TV.

It makes total sense that white boys would feel better about themselves after catching up on their favorite shows, while black boys and females have the exact opposite reaction. Why? TV is packed with strong white male characters that are often in positions of power or might be great with the ladies, etc.  Black boys, on the other hand, are hardly ever portrayed in that same positive way.

Girls of all races, in comparison, are often showcased in simpler, one-dimensional roles. And don't even get me started on Latinos! There are so few shows that feature awesome, empowering Latino actors or characters on TV right now that it's pretty much safe to say that both Hispanic boys and girls probably feel a decrease in self-esteem as well.

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So what should you keep in mind when it comes to your kids? I'd suggest trying to get your kids watching shows that have a diverse range of characters but seeing as those are few and far between these days, the best option is to limit their TV watching and get them out and about. The more they communicate and interact with people of different sexes, races, and backgrounds, the more self-assured and well-rounded they'll be.  And who knows? Maybe they'll get so confident they'll even become TV stars themselves. Win for all!

Do you give your kids rules about TV? Tell us in the comments below!

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Topics: casa latina  child rearing  hispanic children  parents and children