Twelve Tips To Tame The Tube
Here are ideas to give YOU control over television.
- AVOID USING TV AS A BABYSITTER:
Think of how careful you are about choosing a baby-sitter and day care. Try to be just as careful about what your children watch on TV every day.
- KNOW WHAT YOUR KIDS ARE WATCHING:
It is important to be aware of program content as well as the content of the daily news. The younger the child, the more impressionable he or she is, and the less experienced in evaluating content against the values of family and community. Additionally, emotional images may intrude upon and interrupt sleep.
- KEEP TV OUT OF KIDS' BEDROOMS:
It is difficult to monitor what your children are watching when they are watching TV in their own room. Having a TV in a child’s room discourages participation in family activities and encourages them to watch TV when they could be studying, reading, or sleeping.
- SET SOME GUIDLINES ABOUT WHEN AND WHAT CHILDREN WATCH:
This can be done in conversation with your children, but the final call belongs to the adults. The clearer the rules (i.e., no TV before school, or until homework is completed, etc.), the better. Setting new limits may be upsetting to your children at first, but consistency is very important.
- PRACTICE "APPOINTMENT" TV. DECIDE IN ADVANCE WHAT'S GOOD AND WATCH IT AS A FAMILY:
Go through the TV guide in the paper on Sunday and make family decisions on shows to watch for the week. Discuss reasons for the decisions with your children. If in doubt, get more information. In choosing TV shows or videos, make use of independent evaluations, like KidScore®, TV and movie guides, articles in magazines, etc. Discuss issues and ideas with other adults, friends, and parents of your children’s playmates.
- TALK TO YOUR CHILD ABOUT WHAT HE OR SHE IS WATCHING:
Discuss what you are watching and ask specific questions. Ask what they see, as it may be very different from what you see. Ask them to tell you what things mean to them. Ask them why they watch specific shows, what characters they like and don’t like. Discuss the commercials and their perception of toys, cereals, etc. and the people who sell them.
- TURN TV OFF DURING MEALS:
Catch up with one another. Focus on each other. Share stories and activities from each family member’s day.
- USE THE VCR TO YOUR ADVANTAGE:
Tape a good show and schedule a special family viewing – complete with popcorn. If a show is on at an inconvenient time such as meal time, homework time, or family time, tape it to watch later.
- PUT THE FAMILY ON A TV DIET:
Schedule some fun alternative activities. When you do watch television, watch it with your children.
- CREATE A TV COUPON SYSTEM:
Kids get coupons and turn them in when they watch a program. Unused coupons can be “cashed in” for a special family activity.
- DON'T MAKE TV THE FOCAL POINT OF THE ROOM:
Make your children the focus of your attention, not the TV. Research shows that people watch less TV if it is not in the most prominent location in the room.
- PATRONIZE GOOD PROGRAMS AND DEMAND MORE OF THEM:
Express your opinions to TV and radio stations, network executives, and advertisers. Tell them not only what you do not like, but also what you like. Addresses for networks and local stations are in your TV guide. Also, remember that your money has a voice of its own.
Reprinted with the permission of the National Institute on Media and the Family. © National Institute on Media and the Family.
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