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Setting Limits for Your Child-- Watching Television

Updated on October 5, 2011

For more information on limiting tv viewing:

Most kids love watching tv. Television offers and entertaining escape when children are tired or when friends aren't available to play. Television also helps parents out because sometimes, as harsh as it sounds, they may need a break from their kids. But what happens when kids watch too much tv, and what is too much?

Dangers of watching too much tv

  • TV acts as a brain drain. Many studies have shown that a brain is more active while a person is sleeping as compared to when a person is watching tv. We've alll heard the term "zoning out" in front of the tv. "Zoning out" in front of the tv is especially harmful for children because their brains are still growing.
  • Long-term behavioral problems have be linked to excessive television viewing. Among children today we see an increase in violent behavior and a decrease in attention spans. Society has also seen an increase in sexual behavior and drug use among our youth. Some experts suggest excessive television viewing may have contributed to these behavior issues.
  • Physical problems can also be attributed to excessive tv watching. Over the last few decades we have seen an alarming increase in obesity amongst our children. Obesity in turn leads to health problems like diabetes and heart disease. If kids are sitting in front of a tv screen many hours a day, they're not out running around playing and exercising. The average school age child watches at least 27 hours a week of tv; in generations past kids exercised a lot more, and, consequently, obesity was not a big problem.
  • Television diverts children away from creative, constructive activities. Studies suggest a significant decrease in academic achievement for children who watch more than 10 hours of television a week. Television viewing also takes children away from hobbies or just socializing with other children, and these are activities that enrich a child's personality and enhance learning.

Why kids watch so much tv

Children learn behavior from their parents. If you are watching tv constantly, it's likely your kids will spend a lot of time watching tv. They also may watch tv with friends because television shows offer an interesting topic of conversation. Viewing a special television show may be something children have in common, and discussing that show offers them a way to connect with others.

Tips for Parents

Childen are going to watch tv because it is an integral part of our society, but you as a parent certainly have a right to control television viewing in your home.

  • Limit the amount of time children watch tv. Sit down and plan with your child what shows s/he can watch. Then you will have control over content and amount.
  • Agree on limits tha work for the whole family. Some families agree on watching an hour of tv right before bed; other families may need to choose a more flexible arrangement, especially if their are more children.
  • Finally, talk about commercials with your kids. Address the main purpose of commercials-- to sell somerhing to you. Teach your child to be skeptical of claims made during advertisements, and explain how you cannot always believe everthing you see and hear on tv.

Television can be a great source for information and entertainment, but children need guidance. As a parent it is important to tune in to how much and what your kid is watching on tv.

More on Media and Children:


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    • Julie A. Johnson profile image

      Julie A. Johnson 8 years ago from Duluth, MN

      I feel it's much better for kids to be playing, and it's great you stuck to your guns (not all parents do. Good for you! Thanks for your comments.

    • profile image

      DinnerMom 8 years ago

      I enjoyed your article very much. It was quite a struggle to limit tv--but we did (TIVO helped.) Now, my dd's (still in elementary school) are too busy doing other things--right now it is playing American Girl dolls. While it was a little painful when they were very young, I'm so glad we stuck to our guns. I look forward to reading more of your articles.

    • Julie A. Johnson profile image

      Julie A. Johnson 8 years ago from Duluth, MN

      Dolores, I agree, Kids should be outside playing.And I'd appreciate the link, thanks. Julie

      Lady G., There are some great shows out there, Animal Planet, etc., and those are very enriching for children to watch. I like the idea of watching with your kids. Greatr suggestions. Thanks. Julie

    • Lady Guinevere profile image

      Debra Allen 8 years ago from West By God

      Great article indeed. While raising my 2 daughters I had a no tv night. We set a day that we did not even turn the tv on at all. Tht 10nhours a week sounds like a lot but when you think about it and how long some educational programs run that would only be 2 hours a night. That's not a lot. I agree that there should be more educational programs like the History Channel and Animal Planet and NatGeo and there should be no limitations on those programs. Sit down and discuss with them and make some sort of fun game about the program and they will retain the information better and longer. A good progam seires to watch is Planet Earth from the BBC collection. Each in the series is 2 hours long.

    • Dolores Monet profile image

      Dolores Monet 8 years ago from East Coast, United States

      Great hub on a very important topic. I guess I watched what I thought was a lot of TV as a child, but when you read some of the averages nowadays, it is disturbing. Back then, TV was for the occasional rainy day or before the parents got up. On a nice day, after mommy was up, we were playing outside. I've got a hub on this topic and I think I will add a link to this hub.