As children grow and develop, they can be easily influenced by what
they see and hear, especially television. While television programs can
be educational, many children watch too much television. TV programs can
show children violent behavior that you do not want them to imitate, or
that can cause fear. TV may also show children poor eating habits
through commercials for high-calorie, low-nutrient foods. Too much TV
watching can also take away time from reading, studying, learning
activities, play, and/or exercise. Television can also show alcohol
and/or drug use, smoking, and sexual behavior before a child is
emotionally ready to understand these issues and practice good decision
Parents can help decrease the harmful effects of television watching
by screening the type of programming and limiting the amount of time a
child watches television. The following are suggestions for helping set
good television viewing habits:
- Choose programs for your child to watch. Always plan what your child
will see on TV. Do not turn on the TV randomly. Give choices between
two programs you think are appropriate for your child.
- Limit TV viewing to 1 or 2 hours a day for children older than 2
years of age. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that
children younger than 2 years should not watch TV at all.
- Turn to educational shows from the local Public Broadcasting Station
(PBS), or from programming such as Discovery Channel, Learning Channel,
or History Channel.
- Watch TV with your child. Talk about what happened on the show. Talk
about what was good or what was bad about the program. Talk about the
difference between reality and make-believe.
- Turn the TV off if the program is something you believe your child should not see.
- Do not assume all cartoons are acceptable and appropriate, as many cartoons contain violence.
- Many daytime programs (such as soap operas and talk shows) are not appropriate for children.
- Be a good example to your child by not watching too much television
yourself. Be involved in other activities, especially reading. Read to
- Encourage play and exercise for your child. Plan other fun activities for your child, so he/she has choices instead of TV.
- Limit using TV as a reward for good behavior. Try a trip to the
park, a festival, playground, or a visit to a relative's/friend's house
- Television time should be decreased to one-half hour each day if your child is not doing well in school.
- Do not allow TV watching during meal times.