Setting TV limits for your family
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Q: My kids watch a lot of
TV. I know it's not good for them to watch too much. But how much is
too much, really? It's pretty difficult to regulate because we all
watch it and it seems that it's always on. What can I do to control
You are right to be concerned. Too much
TV can rob you of time and family conversations. It can discourage
reading and it can keep kids from doing homework. TV can also have
negative effects on children's learning. The problem lies in the
unsupervised "junk" TV viewing that's so readily available and also
in the number of hours kids spend watching TV rather than reading,
playing -- even just daydreaming.
If your children are young, it's your
job to be very selective about the programs they watch. Be aware
that there is a difference between children's shows that are
educational and those that are mindless entertainment.
- Most entertainment programs for
children are actually designed to sell products -- and children
under the age of 9 or 10 don't understand that advertising is
meant to sell things.
- Educational programs like "Sesame
Street," on the other hand, according to indications from
recent research, have positive long-term effects on children's
learning. These programs have content that is well-researched and
developed by educational advisers.
By the age of 18, most children will
have spent more hours in front of the television than in school.
Setting TV limits is important.
How much TV is too much? Opinions
vary. Experts say children under age 2 should watch almost no TV.
Preschool and elementary school children should watch no more than
an hour or two a day during the week or two hours on weekends. Older
children's TV time should also be supervised, so that they are
watching only programs that you know about and approve.
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column in this article]
some ways you can take charge of your family's TV viewing:
- Decide how much TV your family
will watch. Set weekly limits -- and stick to them.
- Plan your TV viewing. Don't just
watch "what's on."
- Make TV viewing an interactive,
family event. Watch programs with your kids. Let the stories lead
you to conversation about topics that are often difficult to
discuss: death, divorce, family relationships, sex.
- Use TV as a starting point. If
you see an interesting story, find books or magazines that can
help your kids learn more about the topic.
- Set guidelines for choosing the
programs your children watch.
- Don't put a TV in your child's
- Don't use TV time as a reward.
Reward your children with a trip to the library instead.
Learning to spend time without
television shouldn't be a punishment. Instead, it can be a time when
you learn new hobbies, dig out the old board games or enjoy reading
as a family.
* * *
For more information about helping
children learn or to submit your own question to The Learning
Advisor, go to
http://advisor.parent-institute.com. All questions will receive
a prompt answer by e-mail.
© Copyright 2005, The Parent
"Ask the Learning Advisor -- Ideas for Raising Successful
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