Children's TV habits vary wildly. Some kids become bored after a few minutes and play regardless of whether the TV is on or not. Others become completely fixated on the TV and become completely oblivious to the world around them.
There are good reasons for being concerned about the amount of time that young children spend in front of the TV. It's part of your job as a parent to set limits on what, and how much, children watch. You can take control and avoid your kids developing a TV habit by simply keeping the set unplugged. When children play quietly at home, without the TV on, they learn to entertain themselves. This kind of time can be in short supply for many children today who, from an early age, go from one structured activity to the next.
Even if the program is “educational", the chances are that your kids would benefit more from games that they invented themselves. Instead of TV, you can encourage your children to get into books. Developing a love of books and reading will help your children do well in school, and enjoy it more.
Another good reason for keeping the TV off is that many of the programs, even those that air during prime time now, are frightening and highly inappropriate for young children. You should think twice before watching the evening news with young children in the house. Local coverage often focuses on gory eyewitness accounts of murder, child abuse and other violent crimes. Children feel vulnerable enough, and it's your job, not theirs, to worry about violence and other social problems.
Finally TV can also be bad for psychological and physical health. After watching TV for an extended period of time, children can become agitated, and adults tend to be slightly depressed. Furthermore, metabolism tends to slow down during TV, even more so than sitting and reading, and since watching TV and eating often go hand in hand, it is easy to see why this can be unhealthy.
It is unrealistic to expect children to limit their own TV viewing. It's not just your right, but your duty, to take control of your children's television viewing. You can start by establishing times of day or the week when TV is and isn't allowed. Some families prefer to keep the TV off completely on school nights, and to be more lenient on the weekend. Others prefer allowing children to watch an hour or so each day.
First published at http://www.guide2parenting.com/p1_articles_tv.php
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