Television is an important part of modern society, and kids sure to seem to love it. But too much of anything can be a bad thing, especially when it comes to raising children. If you want your kids to have a healthy relationship with the TV, you should help them find that balance while they’re still young.
Why TV Can Be Good for Kids
All kids need to interact with some form of media. Watching TV, reading books, and listening to music help children connect with society. Engaging with media will improve your child’s communication skills, increase their attention span, and help them make sense of the world around them.
Television is especially good for kids because it engages them on both visual and auditory levels. Kids who only read or who only listen to music aren’t engaging all of their senses. By watching TV, your kids learn to recognize complex patterns and process abstract ideas – skills that will benefit them for the rest of their lives.
Kids who watch a healthy amount of TV are less stressed, do better in school, and have an easier time interacting with their peers. Television is a normal part of a healthy lifestyle for both adults and kids, just as long as you use it in moderation.
Why TV Can Be Bad for Kids
All of the negative effects of TV are caused by watching too much. Childhood is short, and kids are supposed to spend that time growing, learning, and developing. If that time is completely consumed by television, they’ll miss out on experiences that they can’t get back.
If you’ve ever spent eight hours marathoning an old television show, you know how awful you can feel after sitting still for so long. Kids can’t and shouldn’t sit in one place for hours on end. Watching more than two to three hours of TV a day can cause problems ranging from short attention spans to obesity. In the long run, kids who watch too much TV can get eye problems or other medical issues.
Kids usually don’t like to stick to one activity for more than a few hours. If your kids seem bored with the TV, turn it off; their boredom is a natural sign that it’s time to do something else.
How Early Should Your Kids Watch TV?
There’s one time in your child’s life when watching TV is definitely a bad thing, and that’s before they are two years old.
Babies and toddlers are just learning to interact with the world. Their brains are still developing, and there’s a lot to take in. Information learned in the first two years will impact how your child interacts with the world for the rest of their lives. These years are critical, and as a parent, you should be interacting and engaging with your child as much as possible.
Watching television before the age of two can cause your kids to develop sedentary habits, short attention spans, and a mismatched view of reality. That doesn’t mean they can’t catch a show out of the corner of their eye – TV is a part of life, and your kids should be ready for that. But setting a baby down in front of the TV to keep them entertained is almost definitely not good for them.
Creating a Healthy TV Schedule
Your kids need a healthy relationship with television, and you can help them build it. Start by keeping the TV in the front room; young kids don’t need to be interacting with media without parental supervision.
Limit TV time to only a few hours a day. In the busy life of a child, there really isn’t that much downtime. Make sure they’re doing their homework, engaging with their hobbies, and playing with their friends.
Monitor the shows that your kid is watching. Kids mimic everything they see. If they watch programming that’s too adult for them, they might try to pick up behaviors that they don’t understand.
Finally, don’t worry about the rules too much. If you make the TV a forbidden activity, your kids will be that much more drawn to it. Turn on the TV when the family is ready to relax, and turn it off when you’ve had enough. As long as it’s not an overwhelming force in their lives, your kids will be fine.