Studies show that nowadays kids and teens 8 to 18 years spend 4 hours a day in front of a TV screen and almost 2 additional hours on the computer (outside of schoolwork) and playing video games.
Especially since the onset of the pandemic, there has been an alarming increase in the amount of time kids spend watching TV. And the effects of television or any technology addiction are harmful to our children.
Children who watch too much television:
- Carry a higher risk of childhood obesity.
- They are more likely to exhibit aggressive behaviour because they impersonate what they see.
- Are more likely to engage in risky behaviours when they get older.
- Tend to communicate less verbally.
- Have less energy and are less active.
- Have a harder time in school.
- Are more influenced by advertisements and propaganda.
Most parents would agree that their children are spending too much time watching TV but are unsure of how to curb their child’s habit. The first step is actually recognizing there is a problem and then focus on helping your kids reclaim their time in this technology-addicted world.
- Be a role model. Your children simply do as you do. You can tell them repeatedly to turn off their screens but if you are watching television for hours yourself, it is very likely that your child will do the same. Children naturally gravitate towards the behaviour modeled by their parents, so set a good example and limit your own TV time first.
- Set a timetable. Parents should sit down with their kids and explain why excess screen time is harmful to everyone. They should schedule screen time in their routines and it should be a limited amount which they are held responsible for.
- Encourage other activities. Share the importance of staying active and provide opportunities for your children to engage in other activities besides watching TV. This could mean arranging art supplies or taking a trip to the park.
- Be involved in their lives. Sometimes we all do it. We turn on the TV because we are too tired to engage with our children. And it’s okay if done occasionally to allow yourself some time to rest. But, try to be involved with your children, play games with them, read to them and actively listen to what they have to say. Your child will feel more secure and connected to you when you spend quality time with them.
- Value family time. Set a time when all screens including TV will have to be turned off and no one is allowed to use their devices, including you. You may need to pull out a plug or turn the cable/internet off and then sit together as a family to enjoy each other’s company. Many families watch TV in the car or during meals but that’s actually the best time to have meaningful conversations with your children. Try to disconnect with the rest of the world and reconnect with each other.
Making a change as a family is always challenging at first. It may seem impossible in the beginning to change your child’s TV habits but it will definitely be worth it. Once you take the first step, the other steps will become easier to implement. Try out these ways and tell us what worked for you!
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About the Founder
Internationally Recognised Emotional Literacy & Mindfulness Expert Tenille Bentley is the founder of The Emotional Literacy and Mindfulness Academy and the author of the children’s emotional literacy books with Jazzy and Pinky and The Energy Ball. Giving children a wonderful introduction to understanding their emotions and what do with them.
Tenille has been featured on Channel 9 News and other major outlets. Her work has been recognised in the community by The Governor of Western Australia, The Prime Minister of Australia and Australian Financial Review.
As a child she experienced severe anxiety and emotional traumas as well as bullying which left her feeling isolated, and unable to understand why she was feeling the way she did. As an adult this impacted her ability to make healthy decisions because she didn’t have the tools to understand her emotions.
Which is why she is passionate about equipping parents with the tools to support their children to make better decisions in life and healthy ones to help support and create a balanced home life.