Free from the Excessive Television Trap

Sid the Science Kid and the rest of his crew.

“You must cut down on your child’s screen time,” I remember uttering enthusiastically at the hundreds of parent-teacher conferences, I conducted. As a teacher, I was well aware of the hazards of children spending excessive time watching television and playing video games.

To read about the detrimental effects of too much television on kids, see: http://kidshealth.org/parent/positive/family/tv_affects_child.html#

And as s a new parent, I intended to keep my son away from the lure of television. My son’s pediatrician further strengthened my view by informing us that the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended no television until the age of two. I, myself, turned on the television only after my son went to bed.

Our daily routine involved going through at least ten books. In addition, I worked with my little boy on his colors, numbers, shapes and letters. I also took him for soccer and swimming lessons.

Not wanting to be too rigid, after the age of two, I introduced my kid to 30 minutes of educational cartoons. He learned about the concepts of estimation, elasticity and measurement from Sid the Science Kid. Moderation works, I thought.

But things changed drastically after the birth of my daughter. Unable to devote the same quantity of time to my son, I succumbed to propping him up in front of the television set for longer periods, so I could peacefully squeeze in a shower or get a few minutes of shut- eye while my baby slept.

However, even the world of educational cartoons proved to be more enticing than I expected. Getting him to leave the house became a challenge because he didn’t want to miss his television shows. Desiring to limit his television time, I enrolled him in pre-school.

But even taking him to pre-school was challenging because he would want to watch his cartoons prior to leaving!

When my daughter was a few months old, and I finally managed to get a handle on my new life with two young kids, I began to mitigate my son’s television time.

Melissa and Doug’s Solar System Puzzle

To this end, I took the kids to places like the park, the library, and the gym.  I also began working with my son again. Since he enjoyed reading, I introduced him to books on CD. He loved listening to audio stories, which added to his already strong vocabulary. I also beefed up his puzzle collection.

Gradually, he began to realize that there were far more interesting things in the world to explore rather than just sitting in front of the television set.

Although limiting my son’s screen time took longer than I imagined, I finally managed to decrease his television time to no more than an hour after he finished his reading and math work.

Recently, the kid enthusiastically gave up his allocated television hour to work on his 48-piece Solar System puzzle. And I heaved a sigh of relief!

For more information on how to reduce your child’s screen time, see:

http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/public/heart/obesity/wecan/reduce-screen-time/tips-to-reduce-screen-time.htm

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This entry was posted in children, discipline, Family, health, kids, motherhood, parenting, Technology, television, women and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Free from the Excessive Television Trap

  1. I live and work in Bangladesh where we have had no real TV at all – just DVDs and some limited internet access. Even here, screen time has been an issue for our children. It is sooo addictive! I think you are right that moderation is the key word here. A little of everything does you good I guess. I’m glad that our kids have actually spent many years away from the western pressure to watch TV 24/7. I hope they will return to our home in the UK in a few year’s time appreciating it as a gift and not gorging on it as a sickly feast.

  2. Anjali says:

    “Sickly feast” is such an apt description. It would be interesting to see how people in the U.S. coped with practically no T.V. and limited Internet access. More power to you guys! And I don’t mean that as a pun.

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