Control Viewing

What's for dinner? In many households, the answer is "television."

A recent Harvard Medical School study of 16,000 children found about 17 percent of those studied never ate dinner with their families only did so on some days. A good number indicated that they often eat in separate rooms watching television or playing video games.

Individual family members watching their different shows on multiple televisions, playing video games, and browsing the internet have added to the sense of isolation many kids have. In most American households, the television is on all the time that people are awake in the house and the activities of the household are directed and controlled by the television. Since television is basically a commercial vehicle, this means we have turned over the control of our family life to advertisers! We are being entertained to death.

While we don't advocate tossing the tube in the trash, we do advocate that parents take back control of family life. The television should be a servant, not a master.

Taking back control means changing habits that may be deeply ingrained in your own behavior. Most parents today grew up on television themselves and the "boob tube" has been a daily part of their lives. Parents often need to reassess their own TV watching practices, and take control of their own viewing habits. Remember, children learn far more from what they see you do than from what you say!


Helpful reading:

Harvard School of Public Health: Research Highlights Ways Parents Can Reduce Children's TV Viewing Time

Children's Hospital of Iowa: Guide for Parents

The New Citizen: How can parents control their child's TV viewing

Parents' Source: How to Use Television to Your Children's Advantage

Child Development Institute: Television and Children

The Family Works: Guilt-Free TV