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Welcome to Effective Parenting.co.za - Understanding your baby in the first year - Bringing home a sibling - DISCIPLINE: Do behaviours - DISCIPLINE: Don't behaviours - TV, toy guns and sex education - Making up an essential CD Series for ALL parents - ORDER TODAY!!! - ONLY R80.00 per CD...

Adhd or just naughty
Good kids - bad behaviour
Bringing home a sibling
Children and change
Children and play - your baby
Children and TV - How much is too much?
Children and TV - How much is too much? (Winter)
Effects of PND on kids benefits
New baby... are you psychologically prepared
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An American study showed that on average, dads spend 8 minutes, working mothers spend 11 minutes and stay-at-home moms spend less than 30 minutes talking to their children each day (University of Missouri Extension Service study). By comparison, another study found that children spend between two to four hours watching TV per day. It is naïve to think that TV has no impact on our children and our families. Our children are fast becoming a part of a TV culture, which includes computers and cell-phones. A more realistic question, therefore is what kind of impact does television have?

If we as parents are careful not to allow murdered, rapists, thieves and other unsavory characters in our homes, then how do we let them into the TV room? This does not mean that children must be deprived of TV. It means that the content of what they watch has to be monitored carefully. Before looking at how to go about doing this, lets take a closer look at the impact of TV on our children and families.

TV is often punctuated with violence. A study in America showed (Tomlinson-Keasey) that physical aggression occurs between 10 and 20 times per hour on prime-time weekend viewing. They conclude that by the time the average child graduates from high school, he or she will have witnessed 13 000 violent deaths on TV. There is also evidence, which shows that when children watch aggression on TV they are more likely to behave aggressively. And this is even more apparent in the pre-school years. Children learn from what they observe. They model what they see. If they see that adults behave aggressively when they are angry, they learn to do the same. While children might learn this from TV it is much more powerful if they see it at home. It is no use limiting the aggression that children are exposed to on TV if they are living with aggression at home. Sometimes it is easy to blame TV at the source of all evil, when there are many other contributing factors that are ignored.

I have often watched children watching TV. They seem to be in a trance-like state, an altered state of consciousness. What becomes apparent is that they are in a state of deep relaxation. What is worrying is that they loose the capacity to filter out what is real and what is not, what is right and what is not. They loose the capacity to think.

As indicated in the study above, the more TV children watch, the less communication there is between family members. One does not know whether poor communication causes children to watch TV or whether TV causes poor communication. But the point is that there is a high correlation between the two. Make a conscious effort to communicate. TV can be used as a the topic for comminicaiton. “Did you like that programme?” “how could that have ended differently, etc”.

So what is your role as parent?

1. Parents need to be both sensors and mediators! This means that you have to decide what is appropriate to watch on TV and what is not. You have to decide this for yourself and for your children. But this is not your only role. To mediate what children see is also important. This means that you have to watch with them and talk about what you see. Perhaps you talk about what you both like about the program and what you didn’t like about it. Perhaps you talk about the parts you didn’t like and why. So if you are watching the cricket with your son and a streaker flies across the screen, this is not to say that you sensor all sport. This is an opportunity to learn from the experience. This is an opportunity to talk to your children about the world.

2. Videos are far more appropriate for children, since parents can be sure about what children are watching. They can monitor the process more carefully.

3. Because TV is passive, balance it with active play.

4. Allow children to develop their auditory skills too. Listenign to stories is a wonderful way for children to build their listening skills and their imagination. TV and Vidoe’s are auditory and visual and they don’t allow children to imagine and think creatively.

5. TV and video’s can stimulate play. When Liam watches cricket he likes to go outside to play cricket. This is healthy and can be encouraged.

6. Because TV is instant gratification and promotes this – even wildlife videos do not reflect the reality of time. A baby calf is borna nd grows old in he same half hour show. balance it with slower activities such as planting a seed. Chidlrne need to know that there is a process to life which unfolds and that not all experiences are instantaneious.

There are other positives to the use of TV, computers of videos

1. Video’s or computers can be good babysitterers. When you have to fee the baby and your toddler keeps disrupting the process, it is a relief to put on Barney and have some peace and quiet for a while. This is apporpirate. It supports you in order for you to support the children. Of course this is open to abuse and needs to be monitored.

2. Samuel was very anxious about starting a new school. He was ready early in the morning and waiting to go. But the longer he waited the more anxious he became. His mom recommended that he watch some sport on TV. This gave him the opportunity to stop thinking for a bit.

3. Gina’s parent are divorced. When she comes home from her dad, her mom asks her “what did you do? Where did you go? Did you eat ? have your bathed? Gina feels bombarded by questions. She needs some “transitional space”, some emotional time and space to help her with the transition form one home ot another. TV is a nice way to do this! To give her some time to chill our before she adjusts to the demands of a different environment.

4, TV and Videos’ can be educational. Just like children learnt the negative stuff they learn the positive stuff too.

How much is too much?

As much time as they watch is about the same amount of time they need to be read to. So if you can read to them for 4 hours then let them watch for 4 hours. Balance reading, playing and TV or computers so that children are getting what they need in a day.

The fifth disc in the Raising Children Effectively series has just been released. If you order the remaining CD's from us now we will send you a copy of Sheryl's NEW RELEASE TV, toy guns and sex education at no charge. Total cost including package is R320,00 (R80,00 each). Contact us at sheks@icon.co.za or sms your telephone number to 082 883 0536 and we will contact you.
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