10 Ways to Help Kids Develop Healthy TV Viewing Habits
- Preview movies and TV shows before your children watch them. Watch the show or read reviews/ratings to verify that the show meets your standards for content and value.
- Watch TV with your kids when you can. Co-viewing allows you to discuss the show with them, and if something inappropriate is shown or said, you can point out that it is something that doesn’t meet your family’s standards.
- Set time limits. Limiting children’s viewing time can be difficult, but being consistent with the rules can help avoid a conflict.
- Establish TV rules around your family schedule. For example, make a rule that homework and chores must be done before watching TV.
- Be aware of commercials. Discuss the concept of commercials and the goal of advertising with your kids. Young children sometimes have trouble distinguishing between shows and commercials.
- Limit eating while watching TV. Research has indicated possible links between eating while watcing tv and childhood obesity.
- Use Parental Control Tools. Technology such as V-chips, blocks and filters can help you monitor what your children are watching. TIVO and other recording devices can also come in handy to record, block, or allow you to fast forward through commercials.
- Plan other family activities. Engage children in fun activities that do not center on the television.
- Set a good example.
- Make it a game. Employ a “three strikes” your out rule. Younger children will especially like yelling “Strike One!” when something happens on the TV that doesn’t meet your family’s standards. After three strikes, the channel is changed. Another idea for making good TV habits a game include working on a project, like housecleaning, during commercials and challenging everyone to go as fast as they can. Or, exercise on a mini tramp or tread mill during the show.