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Another aspect of modern life that is slowly having its negative impact on early puberty and sexual awareness in children is television viewing of negative content.
Children’s brain expert Dr David Perlmutter says in his book- ‘Raise A Smarter Child By Kindergarten’, “That children who spend an inordinate amount of time in front of an electronic screen may also be at risk of premature sexual development. Many girls these days are showing signs of precocious sexual development, including well-developed breasts and pubic hair growth, well before these ages. "
Although no one knows for sure why watching TV would cause premature sexual development, there are several explanations.
First, excess TV viewing is associated with childhood obesity, which can boost levels of the female hormone estrogen, which, in turn, can' hasten sexual development.
Second, TV viewing, as well as prolonged exposure to artificial light, suppresses the production of a hormone called melatonin that helps regulate sexual development in both boys and girls.
As children enter early adolescence, melatonin levels fall naturally signaling the start of bodily changes that culminate in puberty. Artificially suppressing melatonin, however, could cause a child to go into puberty prematurely!”
The intense sexual content of many television programs could rev up hormone production in children who are not meant to be exposed to this type of stimulation at so young an age. Adults often forget that even though very young children can't talk, they can listen and observe.
Their brains soak up everything in their environment. You may think that 1-or 2-year-old is not observing sexy soap opera scenes or the casual sex on a sitcom, but she is. And by the time a child is 4 or 5 and beginning to develop a sense of her sexual self; she is definitely picking up the suggestive themes on TV.
So as your child enters the age of 7 to 14, he/she is definitely now more prone to experiencing bodily changes as he/she nears the age of puberty, here as Steiner said authority is what will work, so monitor what your child is watching, reading and talking to friends. Close supervision is a must. Give him/her the freedom to ask you questions as otherwise, he may get wrong answers from somewhere else.
Also Read: If you're hesitating to talk about sex to your child, here's what you should be reading right now!
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An educator for the past 32 years, Swati is passionate about mentoring parents to help them understand sensitive and brain-based parenting practices. Swati has authored many books on and for children.
Her most recent agenda is the pursuit to bring an awareness about child safety be it traffic safety or child sexual abuse and for this she has developed workshops and written a book- ‘When Touch Becomes Trouble’, that can help kids, teachers and parents.
Swati writes parenting columns for Savvy, Mother & Baby, DNA newspaper Bangalore, Parent Edge, Teacher Magazine, Brainfeed Magazine and is parenting expert for Aditya Birla web portal and iDiva online newspaper of Times of India.
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