Getting Kids Away From TV: A Parent's Guide
WebMD News Archive
Feb. 8, 2001 -- If it's on television, chances are your kids
are watching it. From violent cartoons to chair-throwing, hair-pulling antics
on the Jerry Springer Show, your kids are absorbing a pretty distorted
view of the world. And a new study finds that sexual innuendo on television is
on the rise.
Two out of every three TV programs last season had sexual
references or sexy behavior, according to the study released by the Henry J.
Kaiser Foundation, an independent social research agency. Add this to the
3,500-plus studies conducted over the last 50 years showing the detrimental
effects that television has on kids, and it's no wonder the American Academy of
Pediatrics (AAP) has stepped in, issuing guidelines on TV viewing.
Television, video games, movies -- "these are not benign,
not just entertainment," says Michael Rich, MD, MPH, professor of
pediatrics at Harvard Medical School. Rich is a member of the AAP's committee
on public education.
"Children are learning lessons from everything they see.
The question is, is this the world you want them to see? In many ways, [TV
viewing] is an addictive behavior," Rich tells WebMD. "Kids will object
to it at first. But once the habit is broken, it's not so hard to stay away
from TV. The real key is to decide what you want your kids to do and stick to
How, then, can you gain control over your children's viewing
habits? Here's a helpful list of 15 do's and don'ts for parents:
First off, don't create the "forbidden fruit syndrome," where
television becomes much more attractive because it's not permitted in the
house. "It can sometimes become even more fun and challenging for a child
to try to sneak around parents' rules -- when they aren't looking -- than to
comply with them, says Thomas N. Robinson, MD, MPH, an assistant professor of
pediatrics and medicine at Stanford University. Robinson also sits on the AAP's
committee on public education.
- Negotiate with your kids to set a "media budget" -- the number of
hours a day/week kids can spend watching television, movies, or playing video
games -- as long as you have approved the content. The AAP recommends one or
two hours a day, but stay flexible, Robinson says.