Television the “one-eye babysitter”

Our kids seem to become calm, quiet, attentive in front of the television. Most importantly, it seems to parents like a load is lifted off them. Television’s effect on children is both positive and negative.

In this article, we want to discuss some of the guidelines you can use for children.

  • Restrict your child’s electronic entertainment time to less than 2 hours a day.  This includes televisions, videos, DVDs and computer time. Enforce the limit you have set. 
  • Lead by example. Be your child’s role model and restrict your TV time also.
  • Do not let children below the age of one (or even two years) watch any TV.
  • Select the right shows for children like Dora or Discovery channel or Animal Planet etc. Find shows that teach your children about life, behaviour and the world around them. Sports can also be good for children. Don’t let them watch mindless television programmes like Bollywood music, TV serials etc.
  • Do not let them use up their allocated time continuously. Break it up into chunks. If they are watching a show, tell them they can watch one episode or two episodes etc., so that a logical interval can be reached.
  • Also don’t let them use up their television time in the morning. Then you will have to spend the rest of the day listening to requests for more TV time. Turn them towards alternate pursuits early in the day.
  • Sit with your children when they watch television. Turn the channel off when advertisements appear. These breaks are also a good time to discuss what they are seeing on TV. Ask them what they saw and what they felt. Reinforce the messages on the show. If you cannot sit with the children, try to have a grandparent sit with them.
  • When you send your children to their friends’ houses, ensure that their parents are aware of your television rules. If you don’t want to do this, check with your child after they come back from a friend’s house. Then slowly have a conversation with the other parent.
  • Buy some videos and DVDs which are advertisement-free. Substitute television with these.
  • Some of us have other family members who constantly watch TV. Have a frank conversation with them about how you want to bring up your child. Ask them to move the television to their rooms. It sounds expensive, but what’s price of a TV in comparison to the health and wellbeing of your child!

Some of these guidelines work really well with younger children. Their habits are still forming and if you regulate television viewing early in their lives, they will carry that lesson forever. If your child has already started watching a lot of TV, start using these guidelines gradually. Remember, changing child’s behavior takes a long time and will not happen overnight

The start of our teaching journey
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