Knowing how television can affect children’s behavior will help you be more selective about the programs your child watches and that the experience is positive. Misguided and without the accompaniment of the family, they can fall into aggressive behaviors, overweight and even addictions.
Family is the most important influence on children’s lives, but television is not far behind. It can inform, entertain and teach us. However, some of the things it teaches may be things that you don’t want your child to learn. Television programs and commercials often feature violence, alcohol or drug use, and sex, which is not appropriate for children or teens. Studies show that watching TV can lead to more aggressive behaviors, less physical activity, a change in the image of the body, and increased drug and alcohol use. By understanding how television impacts your children and setting boundaries, you will help make the experience for your childless harmful and more enjoyable.
Ten things parents can do
As a parent, there are many ways to help your child develop positive television viewing habits. The following tips may help:
1. Set limits:
Limit your child’s use of television, movies, video games, and computer games to no more than one to two hours a day. Don’t let her watch TV while doing homework. Do not put a television in the child’s room.
2. Plan your child’s television habits:
Instead of switching from one channel to another, check the programming and the ratings of the programs so that you and your child can select the programs more easily. Turn on the TV to view the program you selected and turn it off when the program is over.
3. Watch TV with your child:
Watch TV with your child whenever possible and talk about what they are watching. If your child is very young, they may not know the difference between a show, a commercial, a cartoon, or real life. Explain that the characters on television are pretended and not real.
Some ‘reality-based’ shows may seem real, but most focus on stories that attract the most viewers. Much of its content is not appropriate for children. The newscasts also contain violent or inappropriate material. If your schedule doesn’t allow you to watch TV with your child, talk to him or her about what you’ve seen later. Or, even better, the record shows so you can watch them with your child later.
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4. Find the right message:
Even a bad program could be an educational experience if it helps your child find the right message. Stereotypical characters may be shown on some television shows. Talk with your child about the real role of the elderly and people of other races, which may not be indicated on television. Discuss how we are different and how we are all alike. Help your child learn to be tolerant of others. Remember: if you disagree on a certain topic, you can turn off the TV or explain why you disagree.
5. Help your child resist commercials:
Don’t expect your child to be able to resist commercials for toys, candy, snacks, cereal, drinks, or new TV shows without your help. When asking for certain products advertised on television, explain that the purpose of the commercials is to make people want things they might not need. Limit the number of commercials your child watches by having him watch public television stations. You can also record the shows and remove the commercials or buy or rent kids videos.
6. Look for kid-quality video:
There are many kid-quality videos you can buy or rent. Watch the clips or trailers of the videos before buying or renting them. There is information about it in books, newspapers and magazines as well as on the internet.
7. Give him other options:
Watching TV can become a habit for your child. Help him find other things to do with his time, such as learning a hobby or sport, learning to play an instrument, doing an art activity, or spending time with family, friends, and neighbors.
8. Set a role model:
You are the most important role model in your child’s life. Limiting your television habits and selecting programs carefully will help your child do the same.
9. Express your views:
When you like or dislike something, you see on television, be sure to express it. Write to the television channel or program sponsor. Television channels and sponsors take into account letters from the public. If you think a commercial is misleading, write the name of the product, the channel, and the time the commercial was viewed and describe your concerns. Call the Television Commission or the Consumer Bulletin for national commercials.
10. Get more information:
The following people and organizations can provide you with more information about the appropriate role of television in your child’s life:
- Your pediatrician may have information on television or may help you obtain information on how to assess the impact of the media on children and adolescents.
- Public service groups publish newsletters about program reviews and advise on how to make television a positive experience for you and your child.
- The parents’ association at your child’s school.
- Parents of your child’s friends and peers can also be helpful. Talk to other parents and agree to set similar rules when it comes to television.
When used appropriately, television can inform, educate and entertain you and your family. By taking an active role in your child’s television habits, you can help make the television viewing experience positive and healthy.
Tipping TVs are a hazard
Newer televisions that have larger, heavier screens in a smaller frame can pose a danger to children who are learning to walk. Many young children are seriously injured and, in some cases, even killed when these front-weight models fall on them. More than 2,000 children end up in the emergency room each year for injuries from falling televisions, according to reports.
The following precautionary measures can be used to prevent such injuries:
Place the television on a low cabinet that is the appropriate size that is designed to support the model of the unit.
Use clamps or anchors to secure the TV and the furniture that supports it to the wall.
Do not place remote controls, VCRs, or other objects on top of the TV that children will try to reach.
Do not let children play with the television or climb on it.