TV Monitoring

Jun 27, 2013

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To quiet boisterous quarrels or upset cries, parents today often turn to electronic devices to soothe their kids’ fussy dispositions. The television, in particular, serves to entertain children for hours on end.

However, this digital babysitter may end up producing problems rather than pacifying them.

Kids already spend a large portion of their day being entertained by digital devices. The Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) studied the amount of time spent watching TV for each age group.

The KFF found two-thirds of infants and toddlers watch a screen on average of 2 hours a day. Kids ages 6 and under spend a daily average of about 2 hours watching screen media, primarily TV and videos or DVDs. This average time increases significantly for kids and teens 8 to 18 years, who spend almost 4 hours a day watching a TV screen and nearly 2 additionally hours on the computer (outside of school work) and on video game consoles.

These findings sharply contrast the suggested amount of TV watched by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). The AAP recommends that kids under 2 years not watch any TV and those over 2 years watch no more than 1 to 2 hours a day of quality programming.

Parents need to moderate the hours kids spend in front of the TV. Children who spend more than 4 hours per day watching TV are more likely to be overweight.

Limiting TV will decrease the likelihood of childhood obesity. It will also force a child to explore other entertainment avenues like sports, art, friends, and outdoor activities.

Not only is the amount of TV watched a problem, but also the content of TV watched.

Today there are thousands of channels on TV with content ranging from child-friendly to explicit. Leaving children with control of the remote leaves them with access to view anything on TV. Even programs classified for children’s entertainment can contain adult-like themes or violence.

Often, TV characters portray risky behaviors like drinking and smoking, and also reinforce racial stereotypes and gender-roles. These messages influence a child’s behavior. Children who view violent acts are more likely to show aggressive behavior. They can also develop a fear that the world is terrifying, as well as a fear that scary situations depicted on TV will occur in their own lives.

Parents need to supervise what their children watch. Take time to watch your child’s favorite programs to see if they are appropriate. Review the content for the lessons and behaviors it may pass on to your child. Be aware of the TV characters’ dress, speech, and actions, and what each suggests.

Reducing the quantity and increasing the quality of TV watched will benefit your child’s physical and metal health. So next time you turn to the television as a pacifier, be sure to moderate and supervise what is being watched.

I work for Net Nanny and all opinions are my own.