Healthy Kids    

Television: An Extra Parent in Your Home?

Is there an extra parent in your home? This parent doesn't help cook meals or help dress your children. It sits in your living room telling stories and showing all kinds of strange and interesting events to children.

Children can learn a lot from the television. Next to parents, the television is the most important teacher children will have.

Television can become a window on the world. It can broaden our children's knowledge and interests by introducing them to people, places, and things they know nothing about.

The TV parent can also become an excellent teacher. This teacher can impart and improve skills such as reading, counting, spelling, and problem solving. It can aid in the development of attitudes and behavior patterns we want our children to have. If monitored by adults, the TV parent does offer programs that will help our children build sound, moral characters.

If we help point out to our youngsters that certain programs are trying to teach honesty, fair play, truthfulness, and a sense of duty, they will remember the lessons longer because they can both see and hear as these qualities are demonstrated.

This TV parent is so convincing that children believe most of the things it tells and shows them. But since children aren't yet experienced in the ways of the world, they can't always distinguish between what is real and what is make-believe. This can confuse and mislead. Children have been known to hurt not only themselves, but other people by imitating what the TV parent tells and shows them.

Television can prove harmful to children in other ways. Spending too much time in front of the set can cause children to become passive and unable to be creative.

Many parents worry about the "hidden" message of television. They hear that some programs teach negative attitudes toward women, minorities, and other social groups. They are concerned about the commercials that push toys, junk food, and sugared products.

Especially worrisome is the mounting evidence of the relationship between television violence and the increase in violence in our schools and communities.

There is no need to go to the extreme of forbidding any television viewing in your home. Rather you can decide to cut down on how much television your children watch.

Decide which kinds of programs they should watch and how often. If at all possible, watch some of the programs with them. This can frequently lead to family discussions of topics which might otherwise be neglected or postponed in day-to-day family life