The following are guidelines from child experts to protect your child from the bad effects of TV, and perhaps use TV for his benefit instead:
- The American Academy of Pediatrics does not recommend letting your kid under 2 to watch TV or any form of video. Kids under 2 are actively developing their brain and TV can get in the way of playing, exploring, and interacting with parents and others – activities that develop his cognitive, physical, skills, as well as emotional and social growth.
- The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that TV time for kids older than 2 should be limited to one or two hours a day.
- They also recommend that the programs your kid watch should be appropriate for his age and should not contain any violence. They should preferably be educational and reinforce language and social skills. For preschoolers, choose shows with simple story lines that look like actual story books, such as “Arthur” or “Clifford” . These are found to improve vocabulary and the use of language.
- Treat TV watching as a privilege or a reward – something that your child earns after he has read, done his homework or done his chores. Another idea would be to allow him to watch one hour of TV after one hour of reading a book.
- Choose what your kid watch. When the chosen show is over, turn the TV off.
- Choose shows that promote positive values that you want your kid to adopt – like having empathy, being kind, responsible, and cooperative.
- If the show your child is watching does not teach positive values at all, make it a jumping point for discussion. You can wonder aloud and talk to your child why a character is mean. You can also discuss what you would do in a character’s situation, like when being bullied.
- Watch with your kid, and talk to him about the show that you’ve watched after it’s over. Explain disturbing images to him, and that conflicts can be resolved without violence. Also, cartoon characters can do things that real people cannot. Let him know the difference between what is real and what is not.
- Encourage your kid to make TV viewing an active learning experience, rather than a passive one. Encourage him to sing and dance with the TV characters or talk to him about what he sees and hears. Ask him questions like “What would you do if that happened to you? Why?”
- Do not put TV in your kid’s bedroom.
- Turn the TV off during meals so it will not get in the way of your family’s togetherness.
- Do not let your school kid do his homework with television on the background.
- Encourage your kid to do other things besides watching TV. Make him play outside, draw, read a book, join his friends, or more importantly, spend time with you and the family.
- Fill the room where you have TV with a lot of books, toys, puzzles, board games and other non-video entertainment.
- Set a good example by limiting your own T.V. watching.
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