How To Monitor Your Child's T.V. Viewing

Television has an effect similar to that of food on people when it's said that we become what we watch.

Are your children watching too much television? Do they view the wrong king of programs? Are they influenced by what they see? If you're unsure, here are some guidelines that may prove helpful.

1. Measure how much time your kids spend in front of the television each day for a week. You may be surprised how quickly the hours add up. An hour after school, another after dinner, and perhaps one more before bedtime become the equivalent of nearly half a school day before the television screen. Remember that viewing habits may change during sports seasons or on weekends, so adjust your estimates accordingly.

2. Check programming stations and titles. Find out which stations your kids watch. Some offer programs that are geared to children viewers with appropriate content. Others are intended for older teens or adults, with questionable content. Look at program titles to determine their appropriateness for your child. Many that run after school offer an on-screen rating, such as "Y-7," meaning that kids seven and older can watch the show with no problem, at least according to the show's producers.

3. View questionable content. Before eliminating the show from your family's schedule, watch an episode with your kids, inviting questions or asking your own to stimulate their thinking about the show's ideas rather than relying on mindless viewing:

"Why does that cartoon character always get hurt?"

"How does this one always manage to escape?"

"Was pushing him over a cliff a good response to the situation?"

For older kids' programs, ask more pointed questions:

"What do you like about MTV videos? Which are your favorites? Why?"

"Does that couple live together? What is the benefit of that? Why don't they marry? How do you feel about that?"

While some kids may resist parental interference, those who have been raised to trust their parents' judgment may benefit from this type of evaluation.

4. Limit television viewing. Cut television time in half on weekdays, and by two-thirds on weekends, unless it's already a small amount of say, an hour or less. A recent Rand survey found that two-thirds of television programming includes sexually-themed material that is either explicitly displayed or discussed openly. The study further concluded that children who watch such shows were more prone to adopt the values that were demonstrated and act on them, than those who did not watch this type of programming.

5. Substitute healthy activity for television viewing. Medical reports suggest that obesity is a growing problem for children and young adults. Recent research showed that young girls who got as much as just an hour more per week of exercise were far less likely to become overweight as those who did not get that exercise.

6. Rent or buy videos. Pacify your kids thirst for television viewing by providing wholesome family or theme videos with valuable content. You also might want to encourage healthy television viewing of shows that accent adventure, nature, or another acceptable pastime.

Television is here to stay. But it's up to parents to monitor their children's use of it and to ensure that suitable alternatives are presented as well.

Trending Now

© High Speed Ventures 2011