Written by Kavitha Ravi and published on 22 April 2021.
Spending hours in front of the television can be disadvantageous, and in many ways can curtail the creativity of children. Here are some easy and effective ways to limit your child's exposure to TV
Keeping your child away from the TV is one of the biggest struggles you'll face as a parent. The number of programming choices available these days can be overwhelming and can easily take over your child's life. Research has shown that overexposure to TV can lead to obesity-related problems and violent unpredictable behavior in children. But at the same time, if used productively, watching TV can help your child gain knowledge about the world that cannot come from his schoolbooks.
So as a parent you will have to find a sweet spot between overexposure and no TV at all.
Here are 10 ways in which you can reduce the time your child spends watching TV:
As a parent, you need to set limits to the time that your child spends in front of the tube. You have to be upfront with your child when you do this. Explain some of the positives of limiting TV time such as more time to spend playing outdoors and more time to bond as a family. It is better to be forthright with the child than to be arbitrary with the rules. You can use your discretion as to whether you want to allow them to watch TV during school nights and how much after they are done with their chores and homework. On weekends, you can be a little more generous and give them more time to spend in front of the TV screen.
You need to lay the ground rules about what your child can and cannot watch on the TV and for how long. Find age-appropriate and family-friendly programming for your child to watch. You can read reviews of the movies and shows your child is interested in before you let her watch it, just to be safe.
You can't set limits on your child and expect them to fall in line if you don't set an example yourself. So tell your child that you will also give up your TV time so that all of you can enjoy family time together. And follow through with what you have committed to as your child will learn from you about keeping his word.
If your child is always stuck indoors then she will naturally gravitate towards the TV. You can encourage her to go cycling around the locality as long as it is safe. If it is a smaller child, take her outdoors for a small walk around the neighborhood or even to the nearest park to enjoy some fresh air. Playing a game of catch or cricket with other children in the park will keep her away from the pull of watching TV and will also help her get some physical activity. Get your child exhausted so that when you return home all she will want to do is head to bed.
Hobbies are one of the best ways to stop your child from getting hooked to the TV. You can get your child to take up multiple hobbies like dancing, singing, drawing, martial arts or anything he is drawn to. Draw up a schedule for him that will give him more time to pursue these activities and less time in front of the television.
If you want to keep your child away from the tube, then you have to invest your time into making it happen as well. Every week you can schedule some family time with your child. You can make it interesting by choosing a different game every week but make sure to get the entire family involved. On the weekends, talk to his friends' parents and organize play dates for the children which come with a clause: no watching TV.
You can organize a wide variety of indoor activities to keep your child occupied. This can involve many interesting things such as getting your child to bake a cake with you, arranging an indoor camping session, painting the pots in your garden and so on. An electro-magnetic kit for making different things can really get some children interested. The idea should be to get them to be as creative as possible.
Another great way to limit your child's TV time is to get her to help you with tasks around the house. This will help her grow up as a well-rounded adult and also help in cutting down TV time. But this doesn't mean that you dump all sorts of boring chores on her. Pick and choose the tasks that will interest your child the most so that she doesn't become resentful.
You can ask your child to list out the things that he thinks he will enjoy doing more than watching TV. You can help him do these activities instead of spending time in front of the telly. He might actually come up with some great suggestions all on his own. This way your child will feel like he has more control over what he is doing and will enjoy himself at the same time.
Books remain one of the best alternatives for TV. They provide a means for your child to escape into another world. There are plenty of books to choose from. You can get your child started on something that she likes and then slowly steer her towards other genres. Once your child gets hooked to books and reading, she will automatically cut down on TV time on her own.
Everything in moderation is a mantra that we must live by. This applies to your child and the idiot box as well. It may not be possible to cut your child's screen time completely, as it's not practically possible. But you can still try to set a cap on it. Steer children away from unlimited TV time and towards other more fruitful activities so that they have a holistic development. You can apply the same set of rules to any screen that children are exposed to like laptops or even mobile phones.