Being the mother of a 1.5 years old, one of the most frequent question asked to me is how much TV should be allowed? When is it too much.??
When we were growing up, there was not much that was available for kids on the television. The program timings were fixed and were short. But today, there are multiple channels with non-stop broadcasts for kids of all ages.
It has been proven time and again, stressed by doctors and everyday reminded by our elders, that electronic gadgets and TV are bad for the development of a kid's brain. Also, personally I feel watching TV or playing games on phones stops your child's imagination and limits his or her interaction with the world. Kids playing games on parent's smart phones at a family function or an outing is now a common sight, when they all should be creating a ruckus, running around and having fun with other kids.
So what needs to be done?
It is important for parents to find a balance between TV and other activities for their kids.
Here are some practical ways to make TV time smart and short:
Treat it as an entertainment:
Treat watching TV as an entertainment and learning rather than a reward for good behavior. Never tell your kid to do something in exchange for watching TV as a reward, neither ban it for bad behavior. This will only make TV more appealing for the kids.
Limit the amount of time:
Two hours in more than enough time to spend in front of the screen. Keep screens out of the bedroom and turned off during meals. These two-hours should be divided into regular intervals and with meaning full shows.
Avoid setting a firm watching time:
Do not tell the kids what the maximum time is. Keep it to yourself. Break up viewing into 10 to 15-minute increments. You don't have to be implicit when communicating the message that there is a fixed time he/she should be watching.
Monitor your toddler's watching:
Choose what you want your toddler to watch. Preview it, make sure the characters do not do anything inappropriate and portray good behavior. There are a lot of shows with violence, lying and bad language. Strictly follow what your kid watches.
Best way is to download the episodes and shows you think are appropriate and connect them to the TV. I have downloaded nursery rhymes and songs for my kid to watch and learn.
Limit your own viewing:
Keep your TV viewing for when your kid is asleep. Whatever you watch, is also taken up by the kids. Kids pick up on bad behavior easily than the good ones. Even if you have a good character in your series, it is not necessary the kid is picking him/her up. They can that easily pick things up from the villain.
Help your child become a wise viewer:
Choose programs which are interactive. Let your child sing, dance and make sounds with the show. Choose the shows which have a decent pace, so that your kid has time to absorb and think what is going on.
Make it productive:
Watch with your child whenever possible. The best way to make TV educational is by interacting with your kid by asking questions and making him/her understand what is going on. Sometimes they need help to understand the story on the screen.
The most important thing to do is not to make the Idiot box important. keep it as something general rather than making it a prize.
About the author:
The author of this blog is Vipasha Bansal. Mother of a 1.5 year old girl she divides her time between running after her and writing her out. She mostly writes about books (which are her biggest passion) and parenting (which is completely new to her and she is still trying to find her footing through hit and trial like any other parent).