The television has been a focal point in American households for decades. Viewers can select from hundreds of programs and choose when they want to watch them. In 2012, Americans consumed close to five hours of video broadcasts every day, according to a Nielsen report. The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry cautions that children who watch TV excessively may exercise less, become overweight, read less often and have lower grades in school. However, when parents play an active role in their children's television viewing habits, watching TV can have positive effects for the family.
Gathering around the TV to watch a show as a family is a convenient way to spend quality time together. While you should turn off the TV during mealtimes so your family members can talk, setting a time for everyone to view a show as a family can create a bonding experience. You can cuddle up with your kids on the couch and munch on snacks together as you watch the show. Watching TV with your children also gives you the opportunity to guide their television program selections, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Some topics are not easy to discuss with kids. Bringing up subjects like drugs, sex or bullying can turn into awkward moments or one-sided lectures, with the parent doing all the speaking. By choosing programs that address sensitive topics and honestly portray consequences, you can help educate your child and have a launching pad for further discussion when the show is over, reports the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. If you watch a show that glamorizes situations like teen pregnancy or drug use, for example, take the opportunity to discuss the realities of those choices with your child.
Some TV programming targets parents of young children by stressing the educational benefit to kids. Even if your child enjoys educational shows and learns from them, you should still have limits. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends limiting the amount of television viewing to one to two hours a day for children and teens. Parents should restrict infants and children younger than 2 years old from watching TV because they learn best through interacting with others. When you do allow your children to watch educational television shows, watch with them and talk about what they learned with them.
Exposure to Different Cultures and Lifestyles
The Children's Physicians Networks suggests selecting TV programs that expose your children to new cultures helps them learn about different lifestyles and values. Documentaries or dramas filmed in other countries can help your children feel empathy for those living in poverty or develop curiosity about their traditions. Shows set in different time periods can help teach your kids about history or show them what life was like without today's modern amenities. Watch news programs to keep your family knowledgeable about current events.
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Sharon O'Neil has been writing professionally since 2008. Her work has been published on various websites, including Walden University's Think+Up. She has worked in international business and is a licensed customs broker. She is currently a supervisor with a social service agency that works with families to prevent child abuse and neglect. She obtained a Bachelor of Science in business from Indiana University.