Television can be both very educational and entertaining for children. However, they can easily become influenced by such a powerful medium. Therefore, it is necessary for you as parents, to set limits, and decide on the strategy that you will follow with your child and television from an early stage.
What are the disadvantages of television?
- Unsuitable programmes may cause children to become addicted to violence, and other bad or unhealthy behaviour not suitable for their age (drinking, smoking, poor diet, sex)
- Unsuitable programmes may cause children fear and anxiety
- Many children watch too much television, to the extent that their relationships, and their time for creative play, reading and exercise are affected
- Many advertisements encourage bad habits
So, what can we do to ensure good habits regarding television?
- Choose the programmes your child will be allowed to watch. Don’t watch television randomly. Talk to your child, and provide him with a choice of two programmes
- Limit the time your child watches television to 1-2 hours a day
- Children under 2 years old should not watch television at all
- Choose educational or good entertaining programmes for children
- Watch television with your child. Discuss what is happening in the programme
- Teach your child to think, and not be a passive recipient
- Switch off the television immediately if you think that something harmful is being shown
- Don’t assume that all children’s cartoons are appropriate; some of them include a lot of violence or unfair messages
- Many programmes for adults, such as reality shows and the news, are not appropriate for children
- Set a good example with what you watch on television
- Don’t reward good behaviour with being allowed to watch television
- Don’t watch television while you are eating
- Don’t allow children to have a television in their room (and in order to set a good example, don’t have one in your room either)
These points also apply to other technological means, such as video, DVD, internet, playstation, computer games.
Stelios Papaventsis Paediatrician MRCPCH DCH IBCLC 2010