TV and your child
Television has become another member of your family and mine; we eat meals near it; learn from it and spend more time with it than with any other single individual.

Television is central in our children’s lives – as tutor, babysitter, teacher, entertainer and salesperson all rolled into one. Has television grown so powerful that we can no longer control it? No. But it very well might unless we act now to harness its influence and channel its awesome power. Television, like a potent drug, can either enhance or cripple a person’s life.

What can a parent do? Follow these guidelines – they will make a difference!

  • Start Now. Many children are already habitual TV viewers by the age of two. Harmful viewing habits can be changed only by substituting new habits. Do a little at a time; some each day.

  • Put The Television In A Seldom Used Room. With the TV in an area away from the living room, family room and other places where heavy family activity occurs, children will watch less and plan more what they want to watch.

  • Plan To Have One Night Each Week Without TV. Meet as a family and pick a no-TV night. Decide whether you want to do things together or have “alone time.”

  • Avoid Using The TV As A Babysitter. You would not leave your child alone in the care of a stranger. A television cannot respond to a cry for help, nor can it tell when a child is frightened or that the programme is for adults only.

  • Plan Ahead What To Watch. With the TV guide, decide what you and the kids will watch every night. Don’t just turn on the set to see what’s on.

  • Seek Out Programmes Made For Kids. Help your children plan to watch programmes designed for their ages, interests and maturity.

  • Watch TV With Your Children. View their programmes with them and help them evaluate what they’re watching in light of your family’s values and traditions.

  • Help Kids Distinguish Between Make-Believe And Real Life On TV. Explain that the terror and violence on TV shows is acting and not real-life violence.

  • Discuss TV Commercials Selling Junk Food. Help your children see that ads are trying to persuade them to spend money by developing buying habits which could be unhealthy. Let your children help select nutritious family foods and snacks.

  • Use TV To Start Family Activities. Make a list of TV-advertised products and see how many you have in the house. Watch different news programmes the same night, and see if all use the same lead stories. Play along with your favourite game show as a family and play your own version with the TV off. Do a TV commercial product test and compare your results with theirs. Reinforce non-sexist programmes by discussing them with your kids.

  • Find Other Leisure Activities Besides TV. Watching TV is relaxing, but so is a good crossword puzzle, game of cards, Scrabble or Monopoly. If you break the TV habit, your child will have a better chance of avoiding an addiction. Buy a puzzle book and work at it together; a model rocket and help build it.

  • Read To Your Child. Start at an early age to help your child discover the magic of reading. Children of all ages enjoy being read to by their parents.

No need to try all these ideas at once. Start small by picking one you want to try and doing it. Post this list on your refrigerator and choose as a group one idea to try each week.

How much TV do your children watch per week? Do you think they could watch more or should watch less?

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