6 a.m. starts when I was a child were not rare. On the weekends my sister and I used to wake up, run to the lounge room, turn the TV and wait for Cheez TV to begin. However 90% of the time we were up too early and there would instead be, five petite women all dressed in lycra bending, stretching with one woman at the front with bleach blonde hair and huge teeth saying, “and 5, good, four, three, two annnnd one! Very goooood!!” This was never a nice way to start the weekend.
But the early morning TV watching and general consumption of five free-to air channels throughout my childhood were the least of my parents worries as when I hit about ten, television viewing had became harder to control as I was going to bed later and Pokemon no longer interested me.
There have been numerous studies done examining the effects that heightened televisions consumption has on a child’s development from birth to age five. But there are limited resources examining the effects that TV has on children aged 11 – 15. Between these ages, I was not allowed to watch shows like Home and Away, Neighbours or Bold and the Beautiful as my parents hated the messages they sent to impressionable early adolescents. So for me at this age with only free-to-air TV, there was news, news or news. This could be the reason I always wanted to be a journalist not an actress.
But with more access to channels offering a wider range of programs, do we need tighter regulations regarding children’s television? I do not think so. Television has changed dramatically over the years as we are now bombarded with reality television; but, there is also now channels on free-to air that are dedicated to broadcasting age appropriate children’s programs such as ABC2 and ABC3.
Screen Australia (2013, p.5) conducted a study which explored children’s television consumption and found that Giggle and Hoot and Play School produced the most response from children aged 2 – 7 years. Whilst the study (Screen Australia 2013, p.5) found that the X Factor, Modern Family and The Block were popular with children aged 11 – 14.
They also explored how television was regulated within the modern family home. The majority of television consumption was restricted to the “adult selecting age appropriate programs for a child” or for those a little older, “children were able to select content from a specified list of channels” (Screen Australia 2013, p.6). This suggests that parents have a lot of control as they either select for children or they use parental controls to reduce the amount of content that the children can have.
This study by Screen Australia exemplifies that rules and regulations surrounding the family television is primarily the adult’s responsibility. And frankly, so it should be; there are channels designed specifically for children and there are now parental locks so parents can relax slightly. But there will always be the opportunity to watch early morning yoga overlooking the Sydney Harbour Bridge.
Screen Australia, 2013, ‘Child’s Play’, Issues in Australian Children’s Television, pp. 1 – 16, viewed 20 September, http://www.screenaustralia.gov.au/getmedia/fb6b35d9-5a95-4521-bbdb-8b12f59d1a87/Rpt_ChildsPlay.pdf