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Television: How Much is Too Much?

Kim Draper


We all know that television can be a parents best friend when you need time to fix dinner, pay a few bills, or have just a few minutes to ourselves. But television should not be used as a permanent baby sitter. Offer alternatives to television that will occupy--and even stimulate--your child' s creative juices. Here are a few ideas to get you started.

  • Jigsaw puzzles
  • Decks of Cards
  • Arts and Crafts supplies
  • Get your children to play a board game
  • Plan outside-the-home activities
  • Read a book together

We ask ourselves, "What harm could possibly come of my child watching un-supervised (or just too much) television?" Here are several startling facts that will answer that question.

Dr. David Walsh, psychologist in Minneapolis states, "On average, a child spends 30 hours a week in school and 32 hours a week in front of the television." During these 32 hours of television over three fourths of that time is spent un-supervised. Children are watching violent cartoons, TV shows, and movies, all without the adult supervision they need so much. And then we, as parents, wonder why we are so shocked when news headlines read, "Second-Grader Brought Loaded Gun To School". The only ones to prevent this are the parents. That is why it is very important to set guidelines, and monitor what our children watch.

Many parents do set guidelines for their children, that help limit how much time is spent in front of the television. Try a few of these suggestions, and see if this doesn't help curb your little ones television time. Some families feel time limits are necessary.

  • Each child can choose one program a day
  • Children can watch 3 hours of television per week
  • Children cannot watch "fighting" shows
  • Chores and homework must be done first
  • Some parents make a list of shows from which their children can choose
  • Others look over television listings and choose together

Perhaps you were actually able to offer fun alternatives, and then set down a few guidelines for how much television can be watched.

If you choose not to let your child watch public television, and you have a VCR, you can buy or rent educational videos or look into some good classic family films. The most important thing to remember is not to say that all television is bad, but to better understand how to manage our television usage.

Talk to your children about television, help them choose shows and set limits on their own viewing habits. Teach them to turn on the television to watch a particular show, and to turn it off when the show is over. All in all, think about your own viewing habits, what are you watching when your children are in the room, and do you have the kinds of television habits you want your own child to develop?

Now comes the time to find out what type of television your children could be watching.

Kim Draper has been a freelance writer for over six years, writing articles on parenting, babies, and toddlers. She also is a certified herbalist and an aromatherapist in training. She has her own website called The Healing Alternative where she writes articles on natural, alternative therapies.

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