Limiting TV or media usage (video games) is a challenge for many families. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends limiting TV time for toddlers and no TV at all for babies. As busy parents living in our media-savvy world, it can be difficult to place such limits on your family’s TV time. Plus, as your child gets older and their interests in the world at large increases, placing stringent limits may only create more family distress.
We know figuring out TV and video game limits can be difficult. Here are some ideas we hope will help you determine the right amount of media usage for your family:
Set TV hours
Set specific “TV hours” in your house so that your kids know they can only watch television and for how long. Remind your child that TV can only be watched only after homework is complete too. Set that precedent early during your child’s formidable years. Try to avoid TV during dinnertime as it can encourage unhealthy eating habits and disengages everyone from important family conversation.
Watch TV together
While TV doesn’t always elicit the best quality time, watching an educational TV program or fun movie can bring your family closer together. Watch the programs along with your child and find something the entire family can enjoy. The Discovery Channel, National Geographic, The Food Network along with many fun children’s programs and movies can offer enjoyment for the entire family at any age. After the show, take the time to discuss the program as a family.
Pick quality video games.
While many parents just say “no” to video games and that is that, it’s not always feasible in our video-game ridden world. Growing up I remember my mom disallowed video games in our house, although I would sneak in a few “plays” at friends’ houses don’t worry, Mom, nothing violent). Regardless, each household is going to have their own rules when it comes to video games. If you do allow video games in your house, be sure they are age appropriate and that they offer some learning qualities too. As your child gets older (teenagers) they will likely become exposed to violent games – these are teachable moments for you to share with your child. Help him or her understand that video games often confuse fantasy and reality. As a general rule of thumb, limit the time your kids can play each day to 30-60 minutes to avoid over stimulation. Also, keep an eye on your child’s behavior and if violent video games are impacting him. Many kids can distinguish fantasy from reality, but some cannot and it’s important for parents to keep a close eye on their child’s behavior.
Remember, the above are suggestions from a bunch of moms who have been there, done that. In the end it’s up to you, the parents, to decide what your household rules are. Just remember one thing – whatever rules you set – it applies to you too Be a role model.
Be sure to share with us any bits of advice that have worked in your household when it comes to limiting media time.
This post was originally posted on the now-defunct Mom’s Choice Matters blog on 3/20/2012.