Because TVs these days are usually quite large, they can quickly dominate the family room – and our lives. Bright colours, sound and movement easily draw people’s attention, especially children. TV programs can be powerful and effective ways to teach children certain things. However, just as children’s TV shows are carefully crafted to keep a child’s attention, the ads which intersperse some shows are also carefully crafted to influence. Children may not understand advertisements but quickly learn music jingles and simple logos. This is the beginning of what is known as ‘brand loyalty.
So how can we encourage our children to use TV effectively? It is a good discussion to have as the adults of the house, before conflict occurs. Discussion could include:
· Thinking about what you want for your family life and seeing how TV can fit into that.
· Are you okay with using TV as a child-minder?
· Will TV be used as a reward?.. or withholding it be used as punishment?
· Do you think children see things differently from adults and so may be affected differently by graphic images and sounds?
· Do you think children and TV news programs are a good mix?
· Are there some family friendly programs you could all enjoy watching together?
· What’s negotiable and what isn’t?
Don’t underestimate the power of modelling.
· Turn the TV off after you have watched your show rather than leave it on as background noise.
· Make conversation important in your family.
· Avoid adult programs when your children are present.
· Balance using TV as relaxation with outdoor activity.
· Use some free time reading, exercising or talking and playing family games
· Turn the TV off at meal times
As children get older, encourage them to negotiate what show they would like to see and what time frame you agree to.
At Angel’s Paradise, emphasis is placed on active play and social interactions and the use of technology is limited to educational activities.