Keeping Kids Safe Watching TV
Years ago, your TV only got certain network channels, and you knew what was available. Now with cable, TIVO, and digital TV, your kids can access all kinds of programs that you probably don’t want them to watch. Keep your kids safe with the following suggestions.
- Keep TVs out of the bedroom. Kids are more likely to watch a lot more TV (and at times when you can’t control it) when the TV is in their rooms. Plus, it’s harder for you to monitor what they’re watching when they’re behind closed doors.
- Turn off the TV during meals. Make mealtime a family time.
- Watch what your kids watch.Talk about what they’re seeing. Ask provocative questions such as, “What do you think of that character drinking all that alcohol?” State your values clearly. “I don’t like it when people swear. I don’t want you to swear either.”
- If you have a TV set that you bought after January 2000, then the TV most likely has V-chip technology. This allows you to block programs that you don’t want your child to watch. To setup the V-chip, check your TV’s instruction manual or visit the on-screen menu options on your TV. The V-chip is controlled through your TV set’s remote.
- If you have cable with hundreds of channels and many setup options, you probably have digital cable. Digital set-top boxes provide advanced parental control capabilities. The features vary by manufacturer and model, but you can typically find specific instructions on how to set up parental controls through on-screen menus controlled by your remote control.
- Be aware that other families may not have controls on their TVs, so kids often will spend time in homes that do not have parental controls.
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• Turn TV and video games off during meals.
• LIMIT screen time to 2 hours a day or less for children over the age of 2. Pediatricians recommend no screen time for children under 2.
• Make sure your child is reading, or make sure an adult is reading to your child.
• Practice "appointment" television. Use your TV guide, and decide in advance what's good to watch.
• Download this TV ratings cheat sheet. Keep it near your TV. Refer to it frequently.
*More tips like these are available in the Through U family education kit from MediaWise, a product of the National Institute on Media and the Family.