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Control the Remote Control

Remote Control
Control your family’s TV so it isn’t controlling you.

Remote Control

Thousands of studies have explored the effects of television on children. What do we know?

  • Not all television is bad. TV offers educational opportunities, pro-social messages, and information that can expand children’s worldview.
  • Children start watching TV younger than other forms of media, with children aged two to five watching an average of 32 hours of television shows, DVDs, DVRs, and video games.
  • Many parents report that they encourage their toddlers to watch TV.
  • Television takes time away from other important childhood experiences, such as playing outside, reading, practicing skills, and eating together as a family.
  • Most TV shows do not teach values parents want children to learn. Many are violent, stereotypical, or glorify mean behavior.
  • Advertisers target young viewers. Children see tens of thousands of commercials every year, including over 2,000 commercials for alcohol.
  • Children who watch TV are more likely to be overweight than those who do not.
  • Excessive TV viewing can cause sleep disturbances that can persist into adulthood.

While the impact of early childhood TV viewing is still unknown, the American Academy of Pediatrics takes a hard line on early viewing, strongly recommending that children under the age of two not watch TV at all. They point out that “talking, singing, reading, listening to music, or playing are far more important than any TV show.”

What’s a parent to do?

As with anything else, parental supervision is advised. Know what your kids are watching, and watch the show with them to discuss what is and isn’t appropriate. Monitor shows and limit those that are inappropriate, violent, or ill-suited to the child’s personality or tolerance level. Limit screen time and know what role you want TV to play in your family. Control your family’s TV so it isn’t controlling you.

About the author

Grown Ups

Grown Ups

Grown Ups Magazine is a free resource for parents, teachers, extended family, or anyone who lives or works with kids. Enjoy digital issues of Grown Ups on your iPad, iPhone, or at grownupsmag.com.

  • mail4rosey

    None of us are big TV watchers here. Every once in awhile I’ll get an urge to watch and I have to ask the kids to come in and watch too. I guess I’m lucky. It’s nice to veg out once in awhile. Our thing here is screen time, everyone gets too much of it.

  • Ricci

    I don’t have kids but I do believe in supervising what kids watch. I have plenty of nieces and nephews and wouldn’t want them to watch some of the crap that’s on tv today.

  • Gabriel Bregg

    We just moved our TV into the basement, so it’s an out of sight, out of mind thing. We never watched a ton of it, but found it being on in the background more than we liked, so away it went. With summer coming, the plan is to do to our kids like our parents did to us, outdoors after breakfast and find ways to entertain yourself.

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