TV, videos and video games

Child playing on a tablet

Once you’ve realized that TV, videos and video games are probably going to be a part of your child’s life, it’s time to figure out how you’re going to make sure they don’t do more harm than good. The single most important thing you can do is become involved in what your child is watching at home and at school.

Try to watch, or be close by, whenever your child is watching TV or a video, and then make sure you talk to him about what he has seen. By doing so, you turn an otherwise solitary activity into a social and learning experience.

It’s important that you’re aware of what good options are available. For example, suggest or choose certain stations that don’t have commercials during children’s programming. And select children’s videos and games that are educational as well as entertaining. Finding these alternatives may take time, but your efforts will be rewarded.

Try to organize activities for the time immediately after a TV program or video ends so your child is eager to get involved in something else.

Be wary of letting your child watch programs intended for adults. Many parents think that very young children can’t understand the content of adult programs, such as soap operas, crime shows and newscasts. But research is discovering that children might actually be absorbing these scenes. With this in mind, tape “adult shows” for later viewing when infants and young children aren’t present.

Finally, it is recommended that you limit your child’s TV viewing to no more than two hours a day. This leaves plenty of time for her to do things like read, draw, play with others and exercise.