How Can I Guide My Child's TV Viewing
Participate in your child's viewing by:
- Be a good model yourself. Eliminate some TV watching by setting a
few basic rules, such as no TV during meals or no TV before completing
household tasks or homework. Designate certain weekdays as "No-TV
days" and plan other activities with the children for these times.
- Plan to view specific programs instead of whatever is on. Try to balance
action, comedy, fine arts, sports, etc.
- Decide what is to be done between designated programs. With young
children be sure they have some physical activity.
- Use the newspaper or TV Guide to select programs that feature children
in your child's own age range.
- Make sure TV does not substitute for other more appropriate activities.
- Balancing reading and TV. Follow up interesting programs with library
Television violence can be harmful to young children, according to a recent
report from the National Institute of Mental Health. Children can become
hard-hearted from watching violence on TV. They can also become frightened,
worried, or suspicious. Researchers also found that children who watched
many violent programs tended to be more aggressive on the playground and
in the classroom.
- Explaining situations that are confusing.
- Asking the child his or her feelings or responses to the program when
it has ended.
- Helping the child analyze commercials (note the exaggerated claims
and that makers of the product pay for advertising).
- Discussing the difference between fantasy and reality.
Psychologist John Murray, Ph.D., lists the following actions you can
take to help alleviate this potential problem:
- Watch at least one episode of each program your child watches so you
know how violent it is.
- When you are viewing together, discuss the violence with your child.
Talk about why the violence happened and how painful it was. Ask your
child for ideas about how the conflict could have been resolved without
- Explain to your child how violence on entertainment programs is "faked"
and what might happen if other people casually tried these same stunts.
- Encourage your child to watch programs with characters who cooperate
well and care for each other. Such programs have been shown to influence
children in positive ways.
Resource: Center for Early Education
and Development, Minneapolis, Minnesota
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