Why TV Might Not Be So BadYou may just be wondering now if there are any positive elements to television viewing by young children and the answer is, yes, there can definitely be some benefits to watching TV.
Programs that are geared specifically to young children along with those shows that are classified as "educational" can help your child learn. Children can learn about language, numbers, and animals from TV all without realizing it, because these programs make it interesting and fun. In fact, studies have shown that children who watch educational programming tend to have higher scores on reading and math tests in school.
Additionally, television shows often raise issues that are sensitive or controversial. Many parents use these shows as a springboard to start a discussion about the issue with their child.
Making Television Better for Your Children
There are many things that you can do to maximize the benefits of your children's television viewing experience.
First, be aware that the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children under the age of two not watch any television. This is because babies need direct stimulation and interaction for healthy development. However hard you try to adhere to this recommendation, it is inevitable that at some point your baby will watch TV. While it is best to keep their viewing to a minimum, you can help make the experience a bit more interactive by playing with them while they watch. If the program is dealing with the color red, then point to items in the room that are red.
Children who are over the age of two should watch no more than one to two hours of television per day. The programs that they do watch should be educational and non-violent.
Tips for Parents
As your children get older, help encourage good viewing habits by minimizing the amount of TV they watch each day. Always be sure to have a ready supply of books, coloring books and games for them to engage with as well as suggestions for outdoor activities they could do instead of watching television.
Make sure you prioritize homework and household chores over television. Do not use the television as a reward for finishing these activities; this will only give the TV more importance to your child. Also, it is important to discourage eating in front of the television. You might want to make it a rule that food cannot be eaten anywhere other than the kitchen. Whatever rules you do establish, make sure you enforce them.
Avoid placing a television in your child's bedroom. A TV in their room will allow them to watch TV when they are supposed to be doing other things like homework or sleeping. Also, you cannot always see what your children are watching in their bedroom. Do you really want your six-year-old staying up to watch The David Letterman Show?
To encourage your children to choose educational programs over other programs, help get them excited about it. If there is an up-coming special on sharks, pique their interest by telling them some fascinating facts about sharks. Then let them know that they can find out more from the TV special. Suggest a trip to the library afterwards so they can learn even more.
Regardless of what age your children are, try to watch television with them as much as you can. This will help you better assess what they are watching. Plus, you can use the programs as a springboard for discussions. And if there are commercials during the show you're watching together, be sure to explain how commercials make people desire things they do not need.
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