I will admit I allow my son to watch TV. I didn’t want to do it but there are times when I need him to sit still while I am doing laundry, cleaning or cooking, which are in areas that he is not allowed to play in. These guidelines have been very helpful to me in making choices for what he should be able to watch on TV.
Monitoring your child’s TV Viewing
- Limit the amount of TV your child watches. More than two hours a day is too much. To make it seem to your child that he’s watching more — and to keep his little brain from going on autopilot as he watches — break up viewing into ten- to 15-minute increments. You should also keep the television out of your child’s bedroom and turned off during mealtimes.
- Avoid setting a firm TV time “allowance” for your child. This seems counterintuitive, but it’s surprisingly effective. You may want to let your child come to you when he wants to watch and keep to yourself what the absolute maximum is. That way, you’ll avoid tacitly sending the message that there’s a certain amount he “should” be watching.
- Make television physically inconvenient. Too often, television is a backdrop to family life: It blares away in the den or great room while the kids are playing, Mom’s cooking, or the family is eating. Consider putting the TV in a small, out-of-the-way room in the house (on the second floor, if you have one). Another way to keep the TV from being front and center: Keep it in a cabinet that remains closed when the TV is off.
Choosing what to watch
- Go with calm, quiet programs. Slower-paced viewing gives your child time to think and absorb. Lots of random activity, like the kind in action/adventure cartoons, confuses children. Also, some research suggests that children who watch violence on TV are more likely to display aggressive behavior. Stay away from scary shows, too. Choose simple programs that emphasize interactivity, such as Blue’s Clues. Ideal are shows that inspire your child to makes sounds, say words, sing, and dance.
- Watch programs, not television. Rather than allowing your child to sit down and watch whatever is on, use the TV listings to select carefully what he is going to watch. Turn off the set when that program is over.