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How to Limit TV Time for Kids

Updated on January 9, 2018
tamarawilhite profile image

Tamara Wilhite is a technical writer, an industrial engineer, a mother of two, and a published sci-fi and horror author.

Why Should You Limit TV Viewing in Children?

  • Television viewing hurts the language development of children. They learn more when they are interacting with people, soliciting conversation.
  • When children watch TV in the evening, they have trouble falling asleep. Its light has a stimulating effect. This is true for adults, as well.
  • There is a direct correlation between the duration of television viewing and academic accomplishments. Asian children get much better grades than black children, because, on average, Asians watch far less TV - and this gives them time to study more. Children that watch three or more hours of television a day are far more likely to earn Fs.

When you set limits for screen time, don't forget the computers.
When you set limits for screen time, don't forget the computers. | Source

How to Control the Remote and Your Child's Viewing Habits

  • Set a timer, whether it is a digital timer or an egg timer. When the timer goes off, so does the TV. Some televisions have built in timers that can be used to turn off the TV at set times.
  • Select specific shows for your children to watch. Then turn off the TV after that show is over. Don’t let kids continue watching the next thing that comes on, since this pattern trains them to remain passive consumers of entertainment.
  • Limit TV viewing time with the requirement that homework, chores and dinner must be over first. This serves two purposes. The first purpose is to reduce homework battles and fights over chores, when children say they want to watch TV before doing anything else. The second purpose is to put TV in its place – as a reward or privilege, not a right.
  • Enforce your limits! My young children learned that when the TV timer turned the TV off, they could simply turn it back on and watch another show. Enforce TV viewing limits, or the boundaries mean nothing. With young children, enforcement could mean slapping the hand that pushed the on button after the rules say the TV should be off. For older children, the punishment could be taking away a gaming device or mandating extra work be done before they can watch TV in the future.
  • Practice life without TV. Sign up for “TV free week” or a planned weekend without television. Then play board games, visit family and find other sources of entertainment than your television.
  • Watch the time kids spend watching TV on devices and count that toward their allotment.
  • Don't forget to set limits on the time and content your children can watch videos on handheld devices. If necessary, turn off their computer's access to the internet by blocking its IP address through the website controlling the family router.
  • Set an example for your children. Parents who rely upon the TV for entertainment teach their children to rely on TV. Parents do not have to play with their children, but could instead find other productive things to do in the evening while children play. For parents who are news junkies, manage the news addiction by listening to talk radio instead of sitting on the couch and staring at news tickers.


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