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Television can help to entertain children, but there are concerns that too much television viewing can be detrimental. Parents should monitor and regulate their children’s viewing time.
Television can affect children in many different ways, depending on their age, their stage of development and the content they are viewing.
There is no doubt that television can be entertaining, stimulating and educational for children of all age groups but there is concern that viewing can also be detrimental, especially if it interferes with active learning, distorts children’s perceptions of reality or creates fears and anxieties about the world.
Important life skills such as thinking, talking, problem-solving, holding attention and getting on with others can all be influenced by our early experiences in life. The longer children watch TV, the less time there is to play, to socialise, exercise and actively learn how to speak, write and think – skills vital to development and health. Studies have shown that watching fast-paced TV shows can result in children having difficulty with tasks that take longer, like reading or doing puzzles.
How much time is ok?
The Australia Council on Children and the Media recommends:
- children under 2 years – no screen-based time
- preschoolers – an hour a day is plenty (of programs made for preschool children). (A strong view held by The Alliance for Childhood is that computers should not play a significant part in preschool children's lives.)
- children 5 – 7 or 8 years – an hour a day is plenty
- children over 8 years – an hour and a half-hour to two hours a day is plenty.
Good TV habits
- Lead by example.
- Control the TV - don't let it control you. Decide together what programs will be watched. This teaches children to think, plan, make choices and allows time for them to do other things important for their development.
- Try to keep mealtimes TV free.
- Avoid morning television for children going to school. It can affect the rest of their day and create pressure to be ready on time for school.
- Ban TV until all jobs and homework are done.
- Keep televisions out of children’s bedrooms.
- Viewing for a very young child should be in your company. Monitor what your child is watching.
- Encourage children to talk about how they feel after watching a program.
- Play 'spot the gimmicks and trickery' in TV commercials.
- Choose a family area which can be a TV free space.
- Use the TV classifications to help you and your children know what is suitable for different age groups.
The Parent Easy Guide on television.
Raising Children Network
The Australian Council on Children and the Media has a very large amount of information about television and other media. For example:
- Parent Helpline 7.15am – 9.15pm, 7 days a week 1300 364 100
- Child and Family Health Centres 1300 733 606
Call 9am to 4.30pm to make an appointment
- Australian Council on Children and the Media Helpline:
Tel 1800 700 357
The information on this site should not be used as an alternative to professional care. If you have a particular problem, see a doctor, or ring the Parent Helpline on 1300 364 100 (local call cost from anywhere in South Australia).
This topic may use 'he' and 'she' in turn - please change to suit your child's sex.