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What are the negative effects of media on childhood language development?


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February 02, 2010 7:31PM

In America, the media do not teach language skills to children, and in fact do the opposite. For one thing, the media cannot respond to the children's use of language, can offer no correction or reinforcement, but only continue to blither on at them like a malfunctioning robot. And for another, American children listening to the media are exposed to the most unskillful, tongue-tied speakers of the language. Media people are famously inarticulate mumblers who must major in "Communications" in college in order to pronounce their own names clearly.

Some negative effects are that violence on television prevents a more comprehensive and larger vocabulary of children, because of the swearing, sex and drugs that are so rampant in television shows. Characters engaging in acts of violence, swearing, sex and drugs tend to be of lower than average intelligence (perhaps not including sex unles it is pornographic sex). They use short or even incomplete sentences and this is what the children pick up. They emulate the tough and bad language they hear on television at school among their friends. They fail to learn the art of complex and abstract thought. Sometimes it can be so ingrained in them that inadvertenly perhaps by habit a child at the Thanksgiving dinner table might say something like "Please pass the f----ing cranberry sauce." , without even knowing it was wrong. And of course texting has all but destroyed spelling and grammar in the English language, but don't get me started on that.

It is agreed that over the years electonic mediums such as television and cinema have certainly negatively impacted language development in children. Indeed in the past, swear words were used and meant as insults or verbal attacks, these days they are imitated out of habit, and the impact of using it is just to sound "cool" and be part of a crowd. It is important to note that those who commonly use swear words are unaware that it can be quite shocking to hear- if especially heard by some foreigners.

It reflects the failure of the family as a foundation unit, society as a community and the educational system as a country's backbone to postively unite together to instill and nuture the proper language skills needed for a functional future generation who will integrate into the community as a whole with proper language skills.

Teachers' jobs have become even more difficult as now not only do they have to teach the proper language development skills but have to try to undo the negative ones- before a student can comprehend the right skills. Teachers have come across students writing in short form computer language such as the following:

' I think u are g8.' ( I think you are great. )

Furthermore, children have become lazier in writing, as they are now using technical gadgets and computers to print words rather than form them using fine moter skills. Note, there is a specific way to form each letter, something they can't do or learn on a computer. This takes away language appreciation and has an effect on reinforcing language development skills through writing skills.

While parents have the first role of positive upbringing in the foundation unit of the family and introduction of proper speaking and writing skills to their children, the media is making it especially more and more difficult. Although, parents can play and should , rightly so, play a major role in their child's language development skills - by at least restricting the use of watching negative tv movies in the home environment and introducing more positive tv movies and programmes that have appropriate standards of language use such as classical movies ( some are very interesting), one has to instill and nuture positive interest too from an early age.

Having said that, children will eventually be exposed to the wider environment such as school and university but at least they would already have set language skills and can differentiate between the negative and positive of language use.

In the end it essentially depends on everyone in society to nuture good language development skills in children by setting the right example-by speaking and writing the correct way.