Now, Jacob has these hand held educational game systems that he is really into, and Izzy is into playing games on the computer. They still have their shows they love to watch, and I find myself wondering how much time is too much time. I believe our children get plenty of social time, playing time, running around time, and reading time- but I still worry about too much screen time. If I would let him, Jake would play his video game and watch tv at the same time (props for multi- tasking).
As I was doing some research, I came across this helpful article to make TV time more productive. It was helpful for me, so I am passing it on. My personal favorite is the TV Weekly Ban, but I don't know how realistic that is for us to do that, but it something I would love to try.
- 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 out of kids' bedrooms.
- Turn off the TV during meals.
- Don't allow your child to watch TV while doing homework.
- Treat TV as a privilege that kids need to earn — not a right that they're entitled to. Tell them that TV viewing 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. Limit your own TV viewing.
- Check the TV listings and program reviews. Look for programs your family can watch together (i.e., developmentally appropriate and nonviolent programs that reinforce your family's values). Choose shows, says the AAP, that foster interest and learning in hobbies and education (reading, science, etc.).
- Preview programs. Make sure you think they're appropriate before your kids watch them.
- Use the ratings. Age-group rating tools have been developed for some TV programs and usually appear in newspaper TV listings and onscreen during the first 15 seconds of some TV programs.
- Use screening tools. Many new standard TV sets have internal V-chips (V stands for violence) that let you block TV programs and movies you don't want your kids to see.
- Come up with a family TV schedule. Come up with something the entire family agrees on. Then post the schedule in a visible household area (i.e., 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 for something else to watch.
- Watch TV with your child. 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, turn off the TV and use the opportunity to ask your child 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). Teach your kids to question and learn from what they see on TV.
- Find out about other TV policies. Talk to other parents, your doctor, and your child's 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 them to turn it off, suggest alternatives like playing a board game, starting a game of hide and seek, playing outside, reading, etc. The possibilities for fun without the tube are endless — so turn off the TV and enjoy quality time with your kids.