Children and Television: What Can Parents Do?
By Elise Kauffman

Children love to watch television, beginning at a very early age. Programming for children is getting better, but there is still a shortage of excellent television shows for children. Television can provide entertainment, learning and enjoyment. But too much can interfere with other, more necessary learning processes. Here are some ways to help keep your child’s television viewing in balance:

Set limits on the amount of television your child watches. Be firm. Limit children’s television viewing to an hour or two dailies. Before children watch television, they should do their homework and chores, but television should not be used as a reward. Helping children find things to do instead of watching television, such as sports, hobbies, or family activities, can make setting limits easier. If television causes arguments or fights, simply unplug it for a while. Children can be creative when television is not taking up all their time and attention.

Help your child plan television viewing in advance. Choose programs from television listings at the beginning of each week. Keep copies of the family viewing schedule where everyone can see them (by the television, in the bedroom, or on the refrigerator) as reminders.

Know what television shows your child watches. Watch television with you child. When programs show sex, alcohol or drug abuse, or violence talks about what you see. Help you children understand what they are watching. This is a good time to reinforce you own family values.

Do not permit television watching during dinner. Dinner is often the only time that families are able to be together during the day. If the television set is on at the same time, it will get in the way of talking to each other.

Do not allow your children to have a television set in their bedroom. Not only will they tend to watch more television, but also they will probably stay in his room away from other family members. When children watch television in their bedrooms, it is harder for parent to guide their program choices. They may get less sleep, causing them to be tired at school the next day.

Keep books, magazines and board games in the television room. Visit the library often with your children. Help them select books to read instead of always watching television.

Set an example of behavior you wish to instill. If you want your children to read more, that is what you should do. If you would like for them to go outdoors for physical activity, make it a part of an enjoyable family exercise program.