Top Tips For Reducing TV Time
There is a scene in Friends when Joey is amazed that someone doesn’t have a TV. He says ‘But what’s all your furniture pointed at?”. Like most comedy, it’s funny because it’s true. Certainly, I can’t think of a home I’ve been into that doesn’t have the sitting room furniture pointed towards the TV.
TV is a blessing and curse when it comes to your kids. It’s a great distraction when you need to get things done or just need some quiet time. But in the back of your mind you always feel a little worried that your kids are watching too much TV or that their time could be better spent.
Indeed research shows that too much TV can have a negative effect on children’s learning, behaviour, emotional well-being, physical health and child development. And with research showing that children spend on average 5-7 hours a day on screens (TV, computer, smart phones etc.) you may have reason to be concerned.
International recommendations suggest that children under two years old should not be exposed to screen time at all. For those over two yours old only 1-2 hours is recommended.
Getting down to one hour a day may be difficult for many of us but here are some suggestions to get you started.
1. Set a timer
Only allow your children to watch a certain amount of TV each day. This may differ over weekends and holidays but having a quota sets clear limits and may reduce the “Just 10 more minutes, Mum” whine.
2. Select shows
Rather than just watching random TV for an hour, sit down with the kids and decide on what shows they will watch. Spaced out over the evening they may enjoy quality over quantity and the stop and start style may make them feel they’ve had more TV time.
3. Active Watching
Only keep the TV on when it’s the sole activity. Having it on during games, reading or just in the background only divides attention. This is particularly important during mealtimes when the focus should be on eating food.
4. TV as rewards
Use TV to reward behaviour or achievements rather than just an automatic pastime. Flicking the TV on could come as a consequence of completing chores or achievements in school, sports or community activity.
5. TV free bedroom
Research shows that children who have a TV in their room watch more TV. Arrange it so the only TV they can use is in one room. This will also help you monitor what your children are watching too.
6. Games and Activities
Taking a little time to prepare simple games and activities could consume many a long hour for children. Take out paper and crayons, dust off Snakes and Ladders, fix up the goal posts or just dig out toys that haven’t been played with for a while. We have lots or games on our site to try too!
7. Cultivate a regular non-screen time hobby
You may not always have the time to do activities with your child so try to find an activity that will engage your child for longer periods on their own. Depending on their likes and dislikes you could try arts and crafts projects, collecting things, reading books or comics, doing puzzles or a sporting activity.
Have you any tips on cutting down TV time?