Do kids watch too much TV? It’s a common question, and one that arouses a lot of hot debate. How much is too much? Is it how long they watch it for, or what they watch that’s the problem?
Many parents say that their kids only watch “educational” television – this would be shows like Sesame Street and many of the specially commissioned children’s shows that have tough standards to reach. Anti-TV parents say that even this type of programme develops a short attention span and that pre-school children who have watched a lot of TV can’t concentrate properly when they get to school.
Parents of all children want to maintain a balance – a little healthy TV watching rather than the TV on all day, some downtime for the kids after school, and let’s face it, for many parents, the TV is the perfect 30 minute babysitter. An astonishing number of children, some as young as 4, have TVs in their bedrooms, and regularly watch movies and videos as well as children’s’ daytime TV content. As a parent, how can you help them to watch TV responsibly and limit the amount of time they watch per week?
Firstly, if your children are young enough, start setting their limits now, so that they know they type of shows you approve of and the ones you don’t. Make sure they’re watching the TV in a room downstairs so that if you’re not watching with them, you can pop in and out and check what’s on. Try not to let them watch TV in their room – you have no control over what they’re viewing.
Secondly, know what programmes are on, and what their content is. That way, you know which shows are appropriate for your child to watch.
Importantly, watch with them if you can. You’ll be amazed at what scares them and what makes them laugh and you are available to talk to them about anything that they see happening on the screen.
Try a TV timer. These timers allow you to set up to three timed sessions per day, which are protected by a pin number so that only you can change them. They can be used for the TV or for games consoles and can be a valuable aid in tracking and controlling your child’s TV habits. http://www.parentstv.org/