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Are your kids watching too much TV?
Monday, 24 March 2014 00:00

Is too much TV bad for your kids?

How much television your child is permitted to watch may not seem like a huge concern. However, healthcare experts agree that as childhood obesity rates continue to rise, there is a direct link between obesity rates and inactivity. Children in many schools throughout the world are faced with fewer opportunities for physical activity while in school. This means parents must accept the responsibility of keeping their kids active.

As if inactivity weren’t enough of a concern, media overload is also an issue for many families. Children are inundated with advertisements and programming that portrays mixed messages. Depending on how much television a child watches, they can view literally thousands of acts of violence before they ever go to kindergarten. If you are concerned with how much television your child should be watching, you will need to take an active role in monitoring it.

In today’s world, the recommendations for how much television a child should watch is measured in screen time. This means that any screen, be it computer, television, or video game, is all considered the same. For every hour a child sits in front of a screen, that’s one hour they are remaining sedentary and one hour they are not getting any physical exercise. The American Academy of Paediatrics suggests that children over the age of two should be limited to no more than two hours of screen time per day, while children under the age of two should be permitted none.

Here are some practical ways to make TV-viewing more productive in your home:
• Limit the number of TV-watching hours:
- Stock the room in which you have your TV with plenty of other non-screen entertainment (books, kids' magazines, toys, puzzles, board games, etc.) to encourage kids to do something other than watch the tube.
- Keep TVs and internet connections out of bedrooms.
- Turn the TV off during meals.
- Don't allow kids to watch TV while doing homework.
- Treat TV as a privilege to be earned — not a right. Establish and enforce family TV viewing rules, such as TV is allowed only after chores and homework are completed.
• Try a weekday ban. Schoolwork, sports activities, and job responsibilities make it tough to find extra family time during the week. Record weekday shows or save TV time for weekends and you'll have more family togetherness time to spend on meals, games, physical activity, and reading during the week.
• Set a good example by limiting your own TV viewing.
• Check the TV listings and program reviews ahead of time for programs your family can watch together (i.e., developmentally appropriate and nonviolent programs that reinforce your family's values). Choose shows that foster interest and learning in hobbies and education (reading, science, etc.).
• Preview programs before your kids watch them.
• Come up with a family TV schedule that you all agree upon each week. Then, post the schedule in a visible area (e.g., on the refrigerator) so that everyone knows which programs are OK to watch and when. And make sure to turn off the TV when the "scheduled" program is over instead of channel surfing.
• Watch TV together. If you can't sit through the whole program, at least watch the first few minutes to assess the tone and appropriateness, then check in throughout the show.
• Talk to kids about what they see on TV and share your own beliefs and values. If something you don't approve of appears on the screen, you can turn off the TV, then use the opportunity to ask thought-provoking questions such as, "Do you think it was OK when those men got in that fight? What else could they have done? What would you have done?" Or, "What do you think about how those teenagers were acting at that party? Do you think what they were doing was wrong?" If certain people or characters are mistreated or discriminated against, talk about why it's important to treat everyone fairly, despite their differences. You can use TV to explain confusing situations and express your feelings about difficult topics (sex, love, drugs, alcohol, smoking, work, behavior, family life).

• Talk to other parents, your doctor, and teachers about their TV-watching policies and kid-friendly programs they'd recommend.
• Offer fun alternatives to television. If your kids want to watch TV but you want to turn off the tube, suggest that you all play a board game, start a game of hide and seek, play outside, read, work on crafts or hobbies, or listen and dance to music. The possibilities for fun without the tube are endless — so turn off the TV and enjoy the quality time together.

Article by : kidshealth.org


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