The media is certainly changing, and as it evolves it becomes increasingly important for parents to monitor the type of content their children are viewing. While it would be nice for our kids to watch nothing more than PBS or Nick Jr., they grow up and their interests change. However, as your kids begin flipping channels looking for the best thing to watch on television, they’re often exposed to a great deal of content that is not necessarily age appropriate. Subliminal jokes, graphic scenes, violence, and the promotion of adult products are all very blatant these days, and while we can’t protect them from the realities of the world, there are things we can do to minimize the amount of exposure they have.
Watching Television as a Family
Growing up, I wasn’t allowed to watch television in my room. There was one television set in the living room that we all watched together. When the show went off, I went to my room and entertained myself with toys until it was time for bed. In today’s modern world however, television sets can be found in every room in the house. Television shows can also be viewed from smartphones and other mobile devices making it harder for parents to monitor.
In my household, though we have televisions in each of our rooms, we watch a great deal of tv together. The children are allowed to pick one show that they would like to watch and then I select a show that we can watch as a family. We make snacks cuddle up under a blanket and just enjoy the tube. I like the moments that we spend watching television together. It gives us quality time to spend together, but more importantly:
- It allows me to assess what my kids are into – kid’s interests change every day. One minute my daughter was head over heels for Dora the Explorer, the next minute she’s into iCarly and Hannah Montanna. Watching television with her allows me to see where her interests lie to ensure that she’s not watching things that are inappropriate.
- Gives me a chance to buffer inappropriate content – When we watch television together, sometimes the commercials that come afterwards are a bit mature for my kids to watch. However, because I’m in the room with them, I’m allowed to buffer what they see during commercial breaks and prevent a lot of misconceptions they might have.
- Makes for great conversation – What I enjoy about family time around the television is that the next day we have something to talk about. Whether we’re laughing about how Spongebob is treated by Mr. Crabs, or we’re talking about how Carly got cheated on, I’m allowed to have open dialect with my children. It gives me the opportunity to not only bond with them, but to give them advice as it pertains to reality vs. television.
Other Ways to Monitor What Your Child Watches
It’s understandable that you can’t always be with your children when they’re exposed to the television. Therefore, finding alternative ways to deal with the problem is ideal. Some common ideas for monitoring your child’s television usage is:
- Set parental controls – depending on the type of service provider you have for television you should be able to set up parental controls that allow your children to only watch shows that are age appropriate. The localized deals found at http://satellitetv-deals.com/directv/california/ suggests that using technology provided by satellite television providers can help. For example, certain features will recommend shows based on the type of content you watch on the regular basis. This is another way to sensor what is watched in the home.
- Do research on shows – talk to your kids about the types of shows they watch. Jot down the name of the shows and do a bit of online research when you get the time. Online reviews and show descriptions can give you a good idea of what your kids are watching and you can make adjustments accordingly.
- Limit Television Time – the more mature content typically comes on after hours. As such, it might be a good idea to give your kids a set amount of time to watch television based on their age. Younger children should stop watching television around about 7 or 8pm to avoid exposure to certain content.
As sad as it is to say, not all children’s television is the same. Though we would love to protect our children from seeing anything inappropriate, that is not always possible. By encouraging more family time while watching television, having open conversations with your children, and utilizing other measures, you can do a whole lot to prevent them from being exposed to mature content too soon.