Take Charge of Your TV
Taking charge of what your children watch and how much time they spend involved with media also means taking control of media in your own life. If you spend hours in front of the television, chained to your laptop, or staring at your personal digital assistant (PDA), your children will learn to do the same. Follow a few tips to get the most out of media.
Set the Schedule
Help your child select the best and most appropriate programming to watch:
- Learn about current programs and look for programming on public TV and on cable channels such as the Disney Channel and Nickelodeon. Some examples of fun and educational programs include Sesame Street, Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, Blue’s Clues, Between the Lions, Reading Rainbow, Barney and Friends, Zoom, or Arthur.
- Check the Web sites of the channels/programs you choose for information, times, and dates. Then, set a TV schedule for the week. Which programs might you watch before or after certain activities? Which programs might you record to watch another time? Be sure to schedule no more than 2 hours of TV viewing per day.
There's so much more to do and talk about after you watch a TV program with your child:
- Play "Who's Who?" with your child. Make a list of all the characters in the program. Then, discuss each, including a physical description and something special about the character. Have your child choose a favorite character and explain why he or she would like to have that character as a friend.
- Play "And, then…." Talk with your child about what might happen to the characters in the story after the program is over. What new adventure might they have? What might they have for dinner? What would they say about what happened to them that day?
- Go to the library. Find books that relate to the characters or that explore the same themes as the TV program you watched.
- Get out the art supplies. Draw pictures or cut out pictures from magazines to create collages or make a book about the TV program.
Small Screen Time
Be sure to include computer time as part of your children's 1 or 2 hours in front of the TV each day.
- Computer games and activities can be more interactive than watching TV programs. Go online to find the networks or programs you and your child have watched and play games with the characters or explore their world.
- After watching a TV program about animals or another part of the world, go online and search to answer questions your child might have, find more information, or look for pictures and/or videos.
- Use the computer for "on-demand programming"—characters and themes you can explore when you want to, rather than when the program is scheduled to air on TV.