Published In: Parenting Created Date: 2016-06-24 Comment: 0

Having 24 * 7 access is a wonderful thing, right? As parents of toddlers and young kids, do we feel the same way about screen time / TV time for our kids?

In this world of constant updated information, we have news channels beaming in breaking news every other minute, glorifying every single detail in depth. And at the other end of the spectrum, we have the Indian soaps which show some seemingly illogical and bizarre situations, making it very surreal. The so called cartoon channels are also flooded with advertisements which are nothing but marketing gimmicks, aimed at the innocent children who are the soft targets.

Happy children – Happy childhood

The dynamics of television viewing have changed dramatically over the years. It is up to us, the informed parent, to make a conscious decision on restricting screen time for children. Children are very innocent and tend to believe everything they see. In order to maintain their innocence, we need to carefully monitor the situations that our children are exposed to. Violent scenes on TV have a bad effect on the small kids, who are yet to differentiate reality, fantasy and the make believe world. They get traumatised by seeing blood splattered all over, or someone getting bashed up and may even get nightmares. This affects the personality of the child to a great extent. We want happy children and happy childhood.

Timing the screen time:
Demarcating the kids screen time and the adults screen time makes sense, especially when raising a toddler. Make sure that what the kid watches is safe and ideal for kids’ viewing. Ensure that the adults TV
time is separate and when the kid is not around. This holds good even for young kids, as we do not want to expose them to objectionable material and stuff that they still cannot comprehend.

Recommended TV, screen times for children:
Ages up to 2 years: Absolutely no TV for these kids. Early years are crucial for a child’s development. The benefits of parent- child interaction is more than the positive effect of TV, if any.
Ages 2 to 6 years: Not more than an hour of television in a day.
Ages 6 years and upwards: Up to 2 hours per day of age appropriate programs.
Teens: Up to 2 hours per day of screen time. Immense care to be taken to avoid the ill effects of excess TV time, such as obesity, extreme behaviour issues etc.

The good, the bad, the ugly- effects of TV on kids:
The Good – Entertaining and at times Educational and a good learning aid for the kids.
The Bad – Can affect the kids’ health – sleep, weight, behaviour, grades. Can make them intellectually challenged and supresses their innate creativity.
The Ugly - Extreme risky negative behaviour (anti-social), Obesity, Exposure to the ugly side of society at a very tender age. (Smoking, alcohol, violence)

Actions by parents:
We like to move it, move it: Get up, get active. Your kids are observing and learning from you. Restrict screen time and be more active and healthy.
No TV day: Earmark one day in the week as “No TV day”. Indulge in a variety of activities like outdoor play, camping, book reading sessions or simply take a walk in the neighbourhood.
Co-watch TV with kids: It’s a good idea to watch TV with young kids and be there to explain the reality to an extent that these kids can understand. Changing channels becomes easy if something really not suitable is being aired.
Make rules: Know what your kid is watching on TV. Set rules on TV time and age appropriate programs.
Talk to kids on what they watch on TV: As kids grow older, they tend to watch programs, which are made for general / mature adult viewing. Talk to them and give them age appropriate explanation. It is nice to discuss the good and the bad that they watch on TV and the value systems that are followed in the house


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