We like TV. After a long day at work, it’s like a frothy dessert at the end of a mediocre meal. It might not have any nutrition value, but it’s sweet and airy and enjoyable with very little effort. However, when TV becomes the routine and more your reality than your real life, you or your kids might have a problem.
How to know? Do you talk about TV characters’ lives as if they were your family or close friends? Do you miss important events because you can’t bear to miss the earliest episode of your favorite show rather than time-shifting to when it’s convenient? Would your kids rather watch TV than go to the park or go swimming? Do your kids spend more than the two-hour daily-recommended maximum time in front of the tube? If so, here are a few tips to help you cut down based on a research study in November of 2006 by the Academy of Pediatrics.
- Keep track of TV watching so you really know how bad the problem is. Most people under-estimate how much they and their children watch. Remember to count the time the TV is on is “just on” in the background.
- Take the TV out of the kids’ bedrooms. Having a TV in the bedroom makes monitoring viewing habits more difficult, as well as actual time spent. Additionally, it promotes dual watching/studying.
- Ditto the dining room. Watching TV while eating ensure less communication within the family at a key time for family bonding.
- Set rules for TV watching on school nights.
- Eliminate background TV.
- Take responsibility for finding other things for your kids to do rather than watch TV. This will be especially true immediately after you lower their consumption. After a while, however, you’ll be surprised how kids manage to find other things to do. After all, kids have survived for millions more years without TV than with it.
For ideas on other things to do with kids, visit http://www.television-turnoff.org/ for alist of 100 TV-free ideas.