Monarch Butterfly Tips for Managing Your Child's TV Viewing
Book Recommendation:
The Plug-In Drug : Television, Computers, and Family Life

As a parent it's your job to decide what role the television and other media play in your child's life. Here's what you can do to encourage healthy TV viewing habits--or change bad ones.

1. Set limits on the number of hours of TV viewing per day

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no more than 1 to 2 hours of television viewing per day for children over the age of two years old. They do not recommend any TV viewing for children under the age of two years old.

2. Watch TV shows with your children then discuss them

Teach your children that violent acts in real life have consequences and help them understand the difference between a TV show (fantasy) and reality by asking them how they feel about what they just watched. Do they feel sad that someone died? Are they happy that the criminal was caught?

3. Encourage other interests

Children learn by example so if they see you spending time in front of the television or computer screen all the time, they will want to do that too.

HearthSong - Deal of the Week

4. Go TV-free

If you have older children, start by going TV-free for one night during the week and slowly add more "family nights" and fewer "TV nights". For younger children TV-free afternoons or mornings usually work. Depending on the ages of your children, this might mean unplugging the TV (for the toddler crowd) or putting a lock on it (for the pre-school crowd). Spend this new "free time" playing board games, going for a walk, talking, playing outside, or reading books.

5. Monitor programs for violence

TV programs now have ratings similar to the system used in the movie industry. The TV-Y rating is suitable for all children, TV-Y7 (children 7 and older), TVG (for general audiences), TV-PG (parental guidance suggested), and so on.

6. Use a V-chip

V (for violence)-chip technology allows parents to block programs that they feel are not suitable for their children to watch. Televisions manufactured after the year 2000 have V-chip technology within the components. All parents have to do is program the television set. For pre-year 2000 television sets it is possible to buy a separate unit.

Related article: Are Your Kids Watching Too Much TV?

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