Page last updated at 15:14 GMT, Monday, 30 March 2009 16:14 UK

Pupil TV habits concern teachers

Little Britain
Vicky Pollard, archetypal badly-behaved teenager in the BBC's Little Britain

Ninety per cent of teachers say some pupils are imitating the language and behaviour of reality television stars, a survey for a teaching union suggests.

Three quarters also think pupils are behaving more aggressively as a consequence, the survey found.

Reality TV show Big Brother was singled out as a bad example by two thirds of teachers questioned by the Association of Teachers and Lecturers.

But broadcaster Channel 4 said its programmes respected the 9pm watershed.

Children having televisions in their bedrooms can lead to families' leading separate existences in the same house
Mary Bousted
ATL general secretary

More teachers thought that television had a greater influence on children's behaviour than computers and video games.

But they were also concerned that more and more children were using personal laptops as a replacement for a television, because parents were less likely to be able know what their children viewed online or be able to control it.

'Real responsibility'

ATL members have complained of swearing, the imitation of rude catchphrases from programmes such as Little Britain, and sexually inappropriate language.

One head of department in a Kent secondary school commented that children "cannot see a difference between reality and reality TV, and the glorification of low culture and moral standards being displayed are seen as normal".

And Debbie Cooper, a school leader in a Northamptonshire primary school, said she had seen girls in Years One and Two (aged six and seven) acting out scenes from a soap storyline in which a teenage girl was abused by her stepfather.

Dr Mary Bousted, ATL general secretary, said television companies "should take more responsibility regarding the content of programmes in general, especially considering the impact they have on the behaviour of young people".

ATL members will debate the issue at their annual conference in April.

Dr Bousted continued: "Parents have a real responsibility here.

"Children having televisions in their bedrooms can lead to families' leading separate existences in the same house."

She said a lack of communication at home meant some children arrived at school with weaker language skills, adding that parents should take responsibility for watching television with their children so they could help them to interpret what they had seen.

A Channel 4 spokesperson said: "Channel 4 abides by the Ofcom Broadcasting Code and so the strongest language is not broadcast before the watershed.

"It is only broadcast post-watershed where editorially justified in the context of the individual programme, meets the expectations of viewers and is preceded by appropriate warning.

"Programmes that contain strong language are always responsibly scheduled and preceded by a clear warning."

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