Setting Media Limits
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) now urges no television watching for children under two years of age (click here for the article from the AAP) and a maximum of one to two hours a day of good quality TV and video or computer games combined for older children. On weekdays, I would recommend one hour a day combined or, better yet, none at all.
- Set clear limits on TV, video, computer games and other forms of media. Remember that all types of screens add up to screen time that should be limited to no more than 1 to 2 hours a day of total screen time.
- Have tokens that are given for 20 minute allotments of time that can be given at the beginning of the week to control total time on media.
- Choose public television over commercial programming.
- Record programs for children and fast-forward through commercials.
- Have a library of favorite DVD's or check them out from the store or your local library.
- Some television channels do not run any advertising for foods or products.
- Avoid having a television or computer in the child's room.
- Remember: Excess screen time equals lack of physical exercise, which leads to a higher risk for obesity.
- Watching television is a passive activity. The majority of programming does not promote physical, mental, social, or personal development. It is primarily a commercially driven medium that does not have the betterment of the child in mind. It often creates unrealistic expectations in the mind of the child and creates an appetite for passive entertainment, junk food, and name-brand "must-haves."
- Research shows that violent programs and computer games can lead to more aggressive behaviors in children. Viewing repeated acts of violence desensitizes their perception of violence. Even during family programs, commercials may show violent previews for other programs and movies. With more concerns about real-life violence in children and teens, it gives us more reason to be watchful parents about the content and time spent watching television.
- Develop television substitutes such as reading, athletics, physical conditioning, and instructive hobbies, as well as time for imaginative play.
- Allow discussion with children about the intent of commercials - they do not always have the best interest of the viewers in mind and they are marketing tools to create buying habits. Two-thirds of all commercials on children's programming is for food and beverage and these are likely to be less than healthy choices.