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Managing TV Time for Kids

Most elementary school age children love to watch television. Uninterrupted, they would probably watch a lot longer per day than parents or pediatricians would like. In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that young children should not watch more than two hours of quality programming per day. But what defines "quality" programming?

Television and Children: How Much TV?

There are many problems associated with television exposure, ranging from being sedentary to witnessing acts of violence. Kids are also inundated with thousands of commercials per month on TV; nearly all for unhealthy foods or toys they probably don't need! Still, pulling the plug altogether is probably not a reality for most families. So, here are some tips to help you find appropriate shows for your child to watch:

  • Limit your child's television time to two hours per day. You can keep track by using a chart. You can also make television time something your child has to earn.
  • Record as many shows as you can so that you can fast forward through the commercials. Or, skip television programming altogether and go for videos. That way you'll have more control over what your child is watching, and you won't have to worry about commercials. Check with your local library, as most offer a wide variety of children's videos.
  • Aim for finding educational shows for your child, or shows from which he can learn something. PBS is usually a safe bet, although there are commercials between shows, so you may want to still record and play it back.
  • Pay attention to the ratings of both television shows and movies. That way, you can ensure that each show has an appropriate rating.
  • Use television as a reward. If your child uses good behavior and earns "points," then she may get more control over her TV hours.
  • Ask your child's teacher for appropriate viewing suggestions. Some teachers may be able to recommend shows or movies that would even be appropriate for what your child is learning in class.
  • Avoid letting your child have a television in her bedroom and don't just hand over the remote. It is important to pay attention to what your child is watching and monitor her usage.

It is important for parents to set a good example when it comes to watching appropriate shows. So if there is something that you want to watch that your child is too young to view, be sure to save it for when she is asleep or at grandma's house. By keeping up on this important issue, you will be successful in keeping television in check!