With the weather getting colder and the days shorter, it’s often easy for children to start spending more and more time watching TV. Rather than give up, here are some simple things to make this a good activity in your preschool child’s life:
- Decide together home much time they can watch TV a day.
- Practice selective television viewing by going over the television guide in your Sunday paper and deciding in advance what you’re watching and when.
- Watch your child’s television programs with them. This will allow you to make suggestions and to have discussions about what is being shown, making the activity more interactive and less passive.
- Help your child to understand the difference between the world on television and his real world.
- Use television viewing as a springboard to reading. For instance, a TV show about wild animals could prompt a visit to the library to find books on these subjects.
- Help your child to avoid watching TV while eating a meal by having family meals away from the TV. A 2002 study from The Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center showed that children who eat meals in front of the TV spend more time watching TV—more time than it takes to eat their meals. They believe this promotes overeating and minimal activity and thus increases the risk of childhood obesity. The children in the study who watched more than 2 hours of TV a day weighed more than the children of the same age who watched less than 2 hours of TV a day.
So while TV may be an unavoidable part of most children’s lives, these simple ideas can maximize the positives and minimize the negatives.