Television and children
How can I control the negative impact of television on my child?
You can help decrease the harmful effects of TV-watching by screening for age-appropriate programming and limiting the amount of time your child watches television. The following are suggestions for helping set good TV-viewing habits.
Choose programs for your child to watch.
- Always plan what your child will see on TV.
- Do not turn on the TV randomly.
- Give choices between two programs you think are appropriate for your child.
- Focus your child's TV watching on educational programming.
Limit TV viewing
- 1 or 2 hours a day for children older than 2 years of age
- The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children younger than 2 years should not watch TV at all.
Watch TV with your child and discuss what he or she sees and hears.
- Talk about what happened on the show.
- Talk about what was good or what was bad about the program.
- Talk about the difference between reality and make-believe.
- Turn the TV off if the program is something you believe your child should not see.
- Do not assume all cartoons are acceptable and appropriate, as many cartoons contain violence.
- Many daytime programs (such as soap operas and talk shows) are not appropriate for children.
- Be a good example to your child by not watching too much TV yourself. Be involved in other activities, especially reading by yourself and to your child.
- Encourage play and exercise for your child. Plan other fun activities for your child, so he or she has choices instead of TV.
- Limit using TV as a reward for good behavior. Try a trip to the park, a festival, playground, or a visit to a relative's or friend's house instead.
- TV time should be decreased to 1 hour each day if your child is not doing well in school.
- Do not allow TV-watching during meal times.
What is the Center on Media and Child Health (CMCH) at Boston Children's Hospital?
Founded by Michael Rich, MD, MPH, one of the world's foremost experts on media, the Center on Media and Child Health (CMCH) is a program dedicated to understanding and responding to the effects of media on the physical, mental, and social health of children.
Through research, production, and education the program offers perspective on common concerns over media and suggests ways to avoid the media's negative effects. In addition to conducting their own scientific research, the CMCH's Web site contains:
- a data base of nearly 10,000 papers on media impact from around the world
- a regularly updated blog featuring contributions by a media experts
- the latest news on media and child health
- suggestions for how your family can use media in a healthy way
- Dr. Rich's weekly column, "Ask the Mediatrician," where he answers your questions about your children and media.
They also address such issues as:
- Books and videos that claim to be able to make your child smarter
- How early your child should start interacting with media
- Social networking sites
- Whether or not any TV and video games are good for your child
- Internet addiction
- The importance of down time in your child's life