The writer provides practical ways to limit too much time spent in front of the boob tube.
|A child’s brain undergoes critical development during the first two years of life. Therefore, too much television and other forms of electronic media can interfere with exploring, playing, and interacting socially with parents and other people. As children get older, too much television can get in the way of a good performance in school and the need to engage in other activities for personal and intellectual growth.
Studies have shown that kids who watch too much television (more than four hours a day) are:
• more likely to become overweight or obese as a result of being sedentary.
• more likely to exhibit aggressive behavior as a result of viewing violent acts depicted by characters.
• more likely to be exposed to advertisements that overly “glamorize” risky habits such as smoking and drinking.
• more likely to be influenced by gender, role, racial, and appearance stereotyping.
On the other hand, there’s no denying the fact that television, when watched in moderation, can be healthy. The much-loved program "Sesame Street" has offered pre-schoolers the joy of learning the alphabet and numbers, grade schoolers get to know more about animals and wildlife by viewing shows about science and nature, and even mild doses of the evening news allow mom and dad to keep up-to-date with current events.
So coming to the conclusion that television is not all evil, how can you, as parents, strike a happy balance between viewing and other activities for your child?
First, realize that television should not be a substitute for healthy social interactions. As parents, always find time to bond physically and emotionally with your child. The fast-paced modern life has left many parents to leave their child in the company of the boob tube, and television has served as a virtual baby-sitter. No matter how busy you may think you are, any amount of time spent with your child is time well-spent in the long run.
Second, set a good example for your kids and be selective about the types of programs that you watch. If possible, get a copy of the weekly T.V. guide and decide in advance what you’re going to view and when. Avoid turning the television on during random times and don’t let your child watch it unsupervised.
Third, limit television time to no more than an hour or two each day. If your child starts asking questions about a certain program or advertisement, get together as a family and openly have a discussion. Your child may be overly awed or enticed by commercials, so make sure that you explain how advertising works.
Fourth, let your child watch television as a form of reward after finishing homework or doing chores. Establish a firm set of rules. Work T.V. time around other important activities instead of letting it interfere.
Fifth, and last, introduce your child to other activities and hobbies like reading, crafts, playing board games, sports, etc. Getting your child involved in a hobby need not be super expensive. You can visit book sales and have him choose from a wealth of storybooks and pop-up books. Encourage his creativity and imagination by allowing him to make his own toys. Get him into the habit of being physically active by buying him an inexpensive skipping rope.
Television can be an advantage or a disadvantage, depending on how you use it. Choose wisely to employ it as an effective tool for educating and entertaining your child instead of providing mindless hours for escapism.