Friday, July 13, 2012

Televillan or Television

Most children love to watch television.  Most children are drawn to television.  Some children even get into a trance like state when watching and tune the outside world off.  I have witnessed this with my own children, my nieces and nephews, and my students.  Television viewing is not in itself, inherently, a bad thing.  But...there is a lot of bad television out there.  And too much of anything is not a good idea.  That is why, as a parent educator, I constantly remind parents of the two "Q"'s of television viewing: Quality and Quantity.

Let's look at Quality...unfortunately, there are a lot of awful programs on TV.  Some are specifically aimed at children.  Just because a network has the reputation of being "kid friendly" does not mean that all of it's programming is good for children.  Some shows are aimed at older children, and should not be viewed consistently by younger children because the messages and themes are inappropriate for a younger viewer.  And some shows are just plain bad.  They promote bullying behavior, cast adults as idiots, and make any one in authority look like a fool.  Other shows promote materialism and lifestyles that can cause a child to feel inadequate, jealous, envious or depressed.  These messages should be contemplated by parents.  The best way to judge the quality of the programs that you allow your children to watch, is to sit down and watch them yourself.  Take the time to examine the messages of the shows that your children are drawn to, and make sure that these messages are ones that you feel comfortable with.  If they are not, simply do not allow your children to watch certain shows.  Remember, you are the adult in the household and limits should be set and enforced by you.

Quantity is the other "Q" to be examined.  Pediatricians recommend that children under the age of two do not watch television.  I know that this rule is hardly ever followed.  Most mini vans have video screens in them and families play movies on a short ride to school.  I see this often.  But if your child is plugged in for more than two hours in a day, he or she is missing out of the kind of experiential learning that is truly healthy and beneficial.  And placing a television in your child's bedroom is NEVER a good idea.  By allowing this, you are neglecting your duty as a parent, which is to help your child to develop to his/her fullest potential.  Television viewing in a bedroom allows your child to access inappropriate programming and also shows that you are unwilling as a parent to take on the adult role of limit setter, which is key to good parenting.  Study after study has shown that children want parents who set limits and monitor their behavior because then the child knows that you are in control--which fosters feelings of security and confidence in your child.  Children may act as though they want to run the show, but really, they want you to be a parent and be in charge.

So monitor your children's television habits.  Protect them from negative messages.  Treasure and guard their childhood by censoring what they are exposed while they are young.  Childhood is precious and fleeting, so help them hang on to theirs' without the negative and inappropriate messages so easily accessed on television.

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