Fighting the TV Culture
by Mark Brandenburg MA, CPCC
A recently completed study at Children's Hospital and Regional Medical Center in Seattle indicated
that for every hour a young child (age two or under) watched TV each day, there was a 10%
increase in the chances of an attention disorder by the time this child was age seven. This is
happening in a country where, according to the Kaiser Family Institute, around 65% of kids age
two or under watch at least two hours of TV a day.
We have a TV culture that not only poses risks for young children, it cuts deeply into time that
could be devoted to families spending quality time together.
TV is not evil. There are wonderful programs for both adults and kids. And there is a tremendous
amount of garbage. One of the most important things you can do as a parent is to set limits on
TV watching (and video game playing) while your kids are young. If these limits aren’t set early,
kids will tend to gravitate towards the garbage
that’s on the tube, and they’ll spend precious time that could be spent more productively.
When you set limits on TV watching, you’ll get some screams and howls from your kids. Don’t EVER
cave in on these demands, or you’ll be sorry. This is your job. Set simple and very clear rules about
what they can watch and when they can watch it. Have a time limit on how long they can watch. Many
parents have had success with a policy of no TV during the week and a few hours allowed on the
By all means, at least have a policy of no TV until all homework has been completed. If you want
a nightmare around finishing homework, allow them to watch TV before the work is done! Power
struggles will naturally follow this policy. Be aware of the desire of your kids to just “watch
TV.” This usually means flipping channels until your kids can come across a disturbing and violent
show or movie.
This is the emotional and mental health of your child that we’re talking about here! The average
child in this country spends about 28 hours in front of a TV or video game a week, about the
amount of time they spend in school. And when a lot of garbage goes in, a lot of garbage comes
out. Have the discipline to create other
alternatives for your kids.
Here are some ideas:
• Start when they’re young. It’s a whole lot more difficult to keep TV viewing under control once
they’ve “gotten into the habit.”
• Keep the TV in the basement and don’t make it a prominent part of your household. Your kids will
learn that there are a lot of other things to do besides sitting in front of the screen.
• Get involved with friends and family who also would like to limit the TV influence in their
families. It can be difficult when your neighbors or family members give your child free reign to
watch, and there may be times when you just have to bend your limits when dealing with other
families. If you can create a “community” of other families who feel the same way you do, it will
make it a lot easier to “sell” the concept of limited TV to your kids.
• Limit how much TV you watch. It’s a bit hypocritical to watch a lot of TV yourself while
limiting TV time for your kids. It may be hard, but make some tough choices. You’ll find a great
amount of freedom in choosing other options for yourself, rather than being a “slave” to your
• Give your kids a lot of other choices to make. Expose them to sports, arts and crafts, camping,
hiking, or anything else they might develop a passion for. It will help if you show a passion
for the activities that you’re showing them. The prevailing attitude can be, “Why would we want to
be watching TV when we can be having experiences like this?”
Limiting the exposure of your kids to TV, especially at a young age, will be one of the most
important decisions you make for your child.
They’re counting on you—make the right choice.
Mark Brandenburg MA, CPCC, coaches men to be better
fathers and husbands.
This article provided by the Family Content Archives at: http://www.Family-Content.com
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