Tips to break the TV habit
Too much time spent in front of the television has been linked to everything from childhood obesity to a decline in kids' reading skills. While most parents probably won't banish television from their homes, some may wish to limit TV time for the...
Too much time spent in front of the television has been linked to everything from childhood obesity to a decline in kids' reading skills.
While most parents probably won't banish television from their homes, some may wish to limit TV time for their kids. The Minneapolis-based National Institute on Media and the Family offers these "Twelve Tips to Tame the Tube" and more information on kids and media use on its Web site: www.mediafamily.org.
* Avoid using TV as a babysitter.
* Know what your kids are watching. Be aware of program content.
* Keep TV out of kids' bedrooms. It's difficult to monitor what your children are watching. It discourages participation in family activities and encourages children to watch TV when they could be studying, reading or sleeping.
* Set guidelines about when and what children watch. Have a conversation with your children, but the final call belongs to the adults. The clearer the rules (for example, no TV until homework is completed), the better. Setting new limits may be upsetting to your children at first, but consistency is important.
* Practice "appointment" TV. Decide in advance what's good and watch it as a family. If in doubt, get more information.
* Talk to your children about what they are watching. Ask them why they watch specific shows and what characters they like and don't like. Discuss the commercials.
* Turn off the TV during meals. 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.
* Put the family on a TV diet. Schedule some fun alternative activities. When you 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 the television the focal point of the room. Research shows that people watch less TV if it's 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 don't like, but also what you like.