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Comment on the following quotation.

Television: Chewing gum for the eyes. (Frank Lloyd Wright)

101. Read the text below to get to know the researchers’ point of view.

Harmful or not?

Experts are at war over whether watching television is harmful to the development of a child. Researchers in the United States claim TV deprives youngsters of the social contact they need for mental and physical development and recommend that children under the age of two should not watch it at all.

But British scientists say other factors, such as home background, social environment are far more significant to individual growth. A seven year project in the south Atlantic island of St. Helena - where TV was only introduced in 1995 – concludes that four years' TV has had no behavioural effects on young viewers.

Research leader Tony Charlton, professor of psychology at Cheltenham and Gloucester College of Higher Education, said: “All children are vulnerable, but some are more vulnerable than others. It can depend on what they watch but more importantly on parenting and community. We often use TV asa whipping boy but used prudently it has an enormous educational potential. Our findings challenge claims that TV makes young viewers violent. Learning violence from the TV becomes a problem only when family, community and school influences fail to check and control young viewers.

"Adults, not the TV, are responsible for youngsters' good behaviour or lack of it." However, Prof. Charlton did concede that TV can affect concentration levels in children under the age of two.

Child psychologists and television experts criticised the latest study in the US by the American Academy of Paediatrics, which claimed that even innocent programmes have unfavourable long-term effects and that exposure to computers games, feature films and the Internet pose health risksto children.

Dr. Brian Young, lecturer in psychology at Exeter University, said: "TV is one of many elements in the information mix. We live in a world of information and there's no point in trying to remove children from it. This is not a problem with television, it's a problem with parenting. There is a temptation for parents to use the TV as a babysitter. But the way to deal with children is to allow them to watch programmes appropriate to their age group and then talk about them. The parent becomes a bufferin a very positive way."

Anna Home, who commissioned The Teletubbies when head of BBC children's programmes, said: "Children need a balanced diet and of course TV should not be treated as the only provider. This criticism comes in cycles and it's very easy to blame TV for society's ills."

Child psychologist Dr Anne Sheppard added: "Some programmes, like Teletubbies and Sesame Street, can have a real educational benefit. Children should not be plonked in front of the television for hours on end, but stopping them from watching television altogether could be considered a form of deprivation."


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