When it comes to children, especially young children, the less television they watch, the better. The obvious reason being that kids who watch too much T.V., or play too many video games, don’t spend enough time being active and getting the exercise they need, and therefore have a higher chance of being overweight.
Sex, Alcohol and Violence on Television
But being at risk of being overweight is not the only negative aspect of too much T.V. Television programs, video games, and even commercials can expose your kids to adult behaviors such as violence, sex, and alcohol, tobacco and drug use. These adult behaviors may not seem to phase your child as they watch, but it takes its toll in the long run.
When T.V. shows and commercials depict sex and alcohol they usually focus on the fun, attractiveness, and all around coolness of participation, but they rarely touch upon on the consequences, health risks, or dangers. In turn, kids can walk away with the idea that if they want to be cool, attractive, successful adults, they should act more sexually and drink with their peers.
When it comes to violence, research has shown that watching a lot of violence on T.V. can lead to hostility, fear, anxiety, and sleep problems in children.
What you can do as a parent.
Obviously not all T.V. shows and video games are going to be detrimental to your child’s physical and mental health, but you need to do your job to make sure that your kids are watching appropriate material.
Before your kids even get to the couch, you need to do your research and make a decision about what shows and games they can watch and play. Watch the shows yourself, play the games, and make sure they are educational, or at least have a positive message.
After you have chosen the shows that you feel are appropriate, makes sure your kids know what the limits are. If your child can’t work the remote yet, this part is easy because they can only watch what you turn on.
If they are older, you may have to use some of the parental control locks on your T.V. to help block unwanted material from being viewed.
Limits and watching together
Along with choosing which programs to watch, it is recommended that you also limit your child’s screen time to one to two hours per day. Having this limit is a great way to make sure your kids are still being active.
Lastly, whenever possible, you should be watching T.V. with your kids so you can discuss what they are seeing. You can reiterate lessons learned from the programs, discuss why a certain behavior or phrase was unacceptable, or even help to diffuse a scary or tense situation.
The bottom line is that you and your family should be the most important influences in your child’s life, and T.V. should just be for entertainment. You can only make this happen if you are involved and in control of your child’s T.V. time.