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The Negative Effects of Television on Communication

By Lillian Wade ; Updated April 18, 2017
Too much television harms a child's communication skills, some experts say.

Teachers and health providers throughout the United States report a reduction in reading comprehension and oral expression among children possibly linked to excessive use of television, according to Ellen Abell, a family and child development specialist with the Alabama Cooperative Extension System. Reading, social and critical thinking skills are lessened when children watch too much television, many experts say. Children’s attention spans have decreased as a result of watching too much television, and the part of the brain responsible for language may not develop because of the visual nature of television, those experts also say.

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Oral Expression

Children are growing up with poor communication skills because they spend too much time watching television and learn to process messages visually rather than verbally, according to Rosemary Sage, an expert in the development of communication skills. Television does not allow children to engage in thinking, speaking and reflecting because they are mostly processing picture information. To make television a learning experience for a child, parents can discuss, ask questions and help the child interpret content.

Listening Skills

Watching too much television takes time away from your child developing important language skills that are established in the first two years, a critical time to develop the brain through play, exploration and conversation. Passively listening to television does not allow your child’s language skills to develop. He needs to interact with people he can talk and listen to in the context of real life. A child who is conditioned to listening and paying attention based on the sounds and images of television becomes restless and inattentive after a short while.

Reading Comprehension

Reading requires much more concentration than watching television. Children become accustomed to viewing television and will not be able to concentrate at school because it lacks the visual imagery of television. A study done by the Kaiser Family Foundation of Menlo Park, California showed young children have problems learning to read if they watch television. Watching television takes time away from improving reading skills through practice because children who watch entertainment television are less likely to read books and other print media.

Social Skills

When children watch too much television, they will not read and have conversations with their parents enough to develop important social skills, some experts say. Social skills are learned at an early age. When they are limited, they put children at a disadvantage in their personal lives as well as, eventually, their work lives, according to those experts.

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About the Author

In 1968 Lillian Wade began teaching English with writing as an essential component, overseeing class newspaper projects each year. Wade holds a Bachelor of Science in business education with a minor in English from the University of Arkansas and a Master of Science in career education from California State University.

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