Ever since its invention, the television has played an important role in the entertainment of people and families. This has been achieved by the programmes that are aired by various media houses. Due to this fact, televisions have developed to be one of the best forms of home entertainment to many families all around the world. This has brought about a lot of benefits in the lives of many individuals regardless of their age or sex. To be specific, children of the modern generation spend a lot of time in front of television sets. In the process, they tend to pick up ideas and characters that may have tremendous impacts on their health, psychology and social life (Leong and Lopez, 2006).
Parents should therefore regulate the amount of time that their children spend watching TV. This is necessary since excessive television watching by children who are below the age of two years may lead to the development of adverse effects. Autism is a condition that is likely to develop in children who are under the age of two years as a result of television watching. Autism is a medical condition that affects the neural development of an individual. It interferes with his/her social interaction. In addition, it also alters the modes of communication of an individual. The condition is normally characterized by a restricted and repetitive behavior by an individual (Freeman, 2010). As a result, the process of information processing in an individual becomes relatively slow as compared to normal people.
This paper therefore aims at determining whether television watching by children below the age of two years can lead to the development of autism. This is a critical topic of study. The results of the study will be essential to parents, as they will have firsthand information on the effects that television watching may have on their children. As a result, parents will take good care of their children. This will ensure that the future generations will be composed of healthy individuals. This topic is also critical in the field of research, especially in psychology. From its findings, more information about the condition shall be gathered. As a result, proper understanding of the condition will be known. It will therefore be easier to control the condition.
The prevalence of autism is about 2-1000 individuals in the world (CDC, 2011). However, in the United States of America, the prevalence of the disease is much higher with a prevalence rate of about 9-1000 individuals (CDC, 2011). Due to the high rates of prevalence of the condition, several studies have been conducted in order to understand and manage it. These studies postulate that the condition may lead to neurological disorders, psychological disorders or social relationship disorders (DeAngelis, 2010).
Several theories have been advanced to explain autism, its possible causes, the manner in which it develops and the effects that it has on individuals. The theory of mind is one of the best theories that has been advanced. The theory of mind is defined as the ability of an individual to comprehend the manner in which other individuals think and believe (Young, 2008). According to the theory, an individual should also be able to anticipate or predict the behavior of other people. However, the children who suffer from autism are incapable of understanding the fact that other children have thoughts and beliefs that are different from theirs.
This is because the condition is a developmental disorder that arises as a result of poor regulation of brain neurons that control the process of conveying signals to several parts of the body. It is due to this fact that the individuals who suffer from this condition suffer from communication disorders. In addition, they have poor social interaction as compared to normal individuals. This therefore affects the social interaction of such children due to the difficulty that they get in relating with other children. As a result, they normally do not have the chance to engage in proper social behavior as it is expected for children of that particular age or state of development. A false belief test is used to test whether an individual is suffering from autism with regards to the theory of mind. This test is administered to children and aims at identifying whether children have the knowledge to differentiate their thoughts from that of other children.
According to the theory, several factors can affect the regulation the manner in which a child thinks and relate to others. Environmental and social factors are essential to determine the cognitive growth and development of a child. One among these factors is excessive television watching by toddlers (DeAngelis, 2010). According to Baranek (2010), children who are below the age of three years stand a high chance of developing the condition (21). This is because their brains are not fully developed. It therefore becomes difficult for them to process the images and sounds that they see and hear from the television. Due to the fragility of their brains, the process of encoding and understanding the visual and audio signals from the television becomes slow. This in turn affects their mode of communication and social interaction. Their cognitive development therefore becomes much slower as compared to other children of the same age.
To fully understand these facts, it is essential to conduct a research that will try to identify whether television watching may lead to the development of autism in children below the age of two years.
This study will try to answer the following questions:
- What is the relationship between autism and television watching?
- Does the rate and frequency of television watching play a critical role in the development of autism in children?
Literature review will be used as a source of secondary information for the exercise. This data will be obtained from books, magazines, peer reviewed journals, online articles and other relevant sources. Through literature review, some of the methods that were been used in the previous studies may be borrowed and applied to the current study. Also the recommendations of the previous studies may also be considered in the current work. Information from literature review will therefore be used as a guiding tool in conducting this study.
The participants of the study shall be children who are below the age of two years. A total of thirty children will be involved in the study. The participants shall be divided into two groups, those who watch TV for more than 60 minutes a day and those who watch TV below 30 minutes a day. In the course of observation, the character and behavior of these children shall be noted. The presence of autism or autism characteristics shall be determined by two independent psychiatrists.
For accurate analysis of the statistical data a computer programme called SPSS 16.0 will be used for descriptive data analysis. The data will be explored using descriptive statistics and histogram plots to determine the shape of the distribution for each sample variable. The name given to each variable for the data analysis will be given in a table.
Data analysis will be carried out using parametric tests where the data followed a normal distribution and where the sample number will be equal to or greater statistical power. Where the data will not follow a normal distribution or where the data will be split into groups of less than the sample size (n), non-parametric test will be used. For example, a Pearson correlation test may be carried out on the data to explore any linear relationships between the variables.
The data that will be collected from the study shall be used to determine whether television watching below children who are below the age of two years may lead to the development of autism. Depending on the outcome of the study, recommendations shall be made which will try to curb the prevalence of the condition in the society. In addition, the results of the study will find a lot of application in the field of psychological research.
Baranek, G. T. (2010). Efficacy of Sensory and Motor Interventions for Children with Autism. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 32 (5), 397-422. Web.
CDC. (2011). Autism Spectrum Disorders. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Web.
DeAngelis, T. (2011). Another tool for special ed: Social and emotional learning programs appear to benefit children with disabilities. Monitor on Psychology, 41 (4), 50. Web.
Freeman, D. (2010). A Comparison of Video Modeling with In Vivo Modeling for Teaching Children with Autism. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 6 (1), 537-552. Web.
Leong, F and Lopez, S. (2006). Culture, Race, and Ethnicity in Psychotherapy. Journal of Psychotherapy, 46 (1), 378-379. Web.
Young, L. (2008). Theory of Mind and Its Significance in Children with Autism. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 14 (7), 17-24. Web.