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How to Get Your Children Away from TV

Does it seem that the kids have forgotten what the garden looks like or the park across the street? Is their conversation dotted with TV show ...

How to Get Your Children Away from TV article provided by wikiHow. Content on wikiHow can be shared under a Creative Commons License.

Get Your Children Away from TV

Does it seem that the kids have forgotten what the garden looks like or the park across the street? Is their conversation dotted with TV show lingo and do they base their next week's schedule around what's on TV? And the big question - are your kids glued to the TV all the time? If so, time to take control and give them a new lease on life that does not revolve around the box.

edit Steps

  1. 1
    Tell the kids that the TV free-for-all is at an end. Explain to them that the level of TV viewing has reached a point of no return and that other activities in life are being neglected. Then tell them that the TV time is going to be regulated from now on. There will be whining, there will be arguing and there will be the typical clever rationalizations that kids are famous for. Stick to your decision - TV time is being axed!
  2. 2
    Develop a TV reduction plan. In consultation with your kids, sit down together and plot TV viewing time. Get a copy of the weekly TV schedule from your regular paper or magazine. Ask the kids which shows they like the most. Then tell them that those are going to be the only programs they can watch. Also consider allowing a time limit of 1 - 2 hours per day (or less, especially on school nights) of viewing and no more. If there are more programs than hours alloted, the kids will be forced to choose.
  3. 3
    Turn it off. Only permit the TV to be on when the program is being watched. Do not allow it to run as background noise. It will distract the kids and draw them back to it even if the program is not one that interested them initially. One option is to use an adapter to control the TV's power supply, only allowing them to watch at certain times of the day.
  4. 4
    Go cold turkey for the whole family. All for one and one for all. One drastic measure is to get rid of the TVs. Yes, it is drastic but if you have a family that is highly addicted to TV, it may be the only way to kickstart this plan. Give the TVs to a family member or friend to keep for a week to a month whilst the whole family goes cold turkey and relearns what they used to do before the TV was invented. One word of warning - do not turn to the internet, video games and other sources of electronic entertainment in place. Instead, bring out those old board games, playing cards and jigsaws to do together as a family.
  5. 5
    Take TVs out of bedrooms. Just because a TV is affordable and keeps the kids out of your hair does not mean that having TVs in bedrooms is acceptable. Bedrooms are for peace, rest and quiet play. TVs do not instill rest and peace, especially not kids' programs, which are deliberately aimed at keeping kids interested through energizing them. Keep the TV (or TVs) in public areas only: somewhere that is easy for you to monitor. If you have a larger family, you may need to consider an additional TV to avoid too many sharing clashes but in the main, sharing and compromise are two important skills to be teaching your kids.
  6. 6
    Do not keep a TV/DVD/VCR in your vehicle. It's amazing how many parents rely on a DVD or VCR in their vehicle to keep the kids "quiet". Road trips or car errands are a great time for kids to draw, read books, play with Barbies or Transformers, talk with parents, listen to music, or simply watch the surroundings out the window. Kids don't need to be entertained all the time. Also, no one needs to waste the extra money.
  7. 7
    Provide alternatives. Kids are learning about their world everyday. Make sure that most of their learning comes from self-experience and not from being told about things via the medium of TV. To assist their self-exploration and to perk their curiosity, provide a range of alternative activities. Keep an activity cupboard packed with activities such as:

  8. 8
    Encourage outdoor and sporting activities. Keep a good supply of balls, bats, rackets, shuttlecocks, jump ropes, Frisbees, bikes, and other outdoor objects handy. Go to the parks, the pool, or the football field and be active together. Encourage older kids to go by themselves and play sports with friends. Enroll kids of all ages in sports classes, either team or individual, depending on your kids' expressions of interest.
  9. 9
    Go on outings together. Visit museums, parks, science centers, aquariums,and amuesment parks zoos, amusement parks, mini-golf, the cinema, the beach -- anywhere that gets them away from the TV. Travel on the train to the end of the line just to see where it goes and come back again. Help out with volunteer projects. Do a variety of things that encourage the kids to explore their world and see, touch, taste, smell, and hear it for themselves, senses that no TV program can ever truly stimulate or replicate.
  10. 10
    Reward adherence to the TV reduction plan. Once the TV reduction plan has become routine and the kids are watching less TV (only their allotted programs), reinforce their changed focus with rewards. The rewards might be activity based, such as going to an amusement park or the theater or they might be material, such as new clothes, books or CDs.
  11. 11
    Set a good example. It should go without saying that your behavior matters. What you do will demonstrate to the kids what is okay to do. Watch less TV yourself, remove any TV from your bedroom, participate in the kids' activities, and be active in sports, fitness, and exercise. You will not only be setting your kids a great example but you'll be doing yourself a favor, too. Just see how much more time emerges in your day when you restrict the TV viewing!

edit Tips

  • Make it a rule that there is no TV watching before homework is done. Unwinding after school should be relaxing, not getting hyperactive in front of the TV.
  • It can be a good idea to get kids out of TV during summer first. Summer TV is usually re-runs and fairly drab. And it is much easier to get out of doors during summer! Once the routine is in place for summer, gradually replace indoor TV as the months get darker with indoor activities, like games and reading. Continue going to museums, skating rinks, and indoor sports places as you did during summer.
  • A good rule-of-thumb for TV watching is:

    • No TV for children under the age of 2. The TV can never be a substitute for learning about the world around them.
    • One to two hours and no more per day for children aged over two. Also suitable for adults.
  • Place your TV in the closet. Removing the TV from the center of your living space communicates that it is no longer the center of your lives.
  • Sell your TV. Want to go over the top? Want kids that love to read? Want kids that pay attention in school? Want to foster creative and self-entertainment? Want to spend more time communicating, playing, etc.? Want to be the person giving the values instead of all the strangers with their strange ideas from television land? Want to set your kids up for a much healthier lifestyle? You can always watch a movie on your computer screen, a movie you selected.
  • Disconnect the cable. Most cable providers have several television stations geared toward children, and many have television stations that show cartoons all day. Without "children's TV stations," your children may actually look forward to getting up on Saturday Morning to watch cartoons.
  • Buy or rent the television programs that you want to watch and watch them after the kids go to sleep. Many network programs are also available on demand on the internet within a week of airing on television. By doing this, you can watch television on your own schedule without exposing your children to your shows.
  • Discuss your TV reduction with your kid's friend's parents. If they know what you want for your kids you can help stop TV watching away from home.
  • Not letting children watch television may save you money. Children are very susceptible to influence from television commercials. Without commercials, you children may not be as brand conscious, and they won't request things in television commercials they don't see.
  • Reduced exposure to commercials will have many benefits for your children: reduced desire and impulses to eat junk food or sweets, reduced desire/impulses to buy the latest toys and other fads.
  • Do not replace the TV with the computer or video games. If you allow this, you may well be setting the kids up for an alternative addiction. Try to allow everything in moderation and with clear limits.
  • It is a good idea to monitor what your children are watching. If you don't, you won't know what they are seeing and this can manifest itself in very negative ways if they are witnessing violence, sexually explicit content, or even just too many advertisements. Remember, TV viewing must be quality, no matter what. More importantly, monitoring what they watch keeps you involved in your child's life.
  • Discuss Television with your children and see what they think. Tell them what you want. If they become totally addicted, restrict any tv time. Period.

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