How do you monitor your children´s TV?

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Everybody knows that TV has many bad influences upon people and yet it´s so hard to make people turn it off. For kids, nothing could be worse. Kids get exposed to inappropriate content, publicity makes us buy unnecessary things and fear is spread through news and shows all day long.

Personally I quit watching TV in 2004, but way before that I was getting quite aware in a way to choose better the channels and the shows. So when I had my daughter, in 2007, it was no problem for me to keep her away from TV. We simply don´t have a TV at home (the best and maybe only way to avoid it).

If you let your kid watch TV at any hour of the day he can see fights, rapes (even if just obvious insinuations), war scenes (oh, so normal these days to watch bombing over towns and real bodies on the streets), robbery, murders and the list of horror goes on and on.

Even if you only let your kid watch TV in the morning. Tell me sincerely, doesn´t you kid take a pick on what you are watching around 7 or 8 pm (or even later)? Doesn´t your kid take a pick on the news? (I´d love to see one day when the news gets called horror show)

I won´t talk of how these shows can damage your kids view of the world. We all know this. There are infinite sources to read from this available (check some I chose on the bottom of this post). What kills me is that people don´t take action to shut this all off.

Ah, the wanders of having your kid sitting down quietly for one or two hours! I love that feeling. What I do is put videos or films that I approve for my daughter to watch for very limited time. I´m the censor in this house, no broadcasting channel can know better than me. And the sources of good shows, films, cartoons on DVD and available on the internet are endless.

Just think of how strong those TV images can be on your kid´s subconscious mind after he goes to bed. No wander kids come up with the craziest nightmares.  I have a history of nightmares following hard core scenes, my mother learned to not let me watch some movies but I´d still do at friend´s house now and then. Just think how watching violence over and over can affect your children.

How about families complaining that the kid won´t go to bed early,  while the parents are watching TV? I´ve heard of kids that sleep no matter how busy the house is. Even doctors say that you should get your kid used to the night noise in the house, not to get the “bad habit” of wanting to sleep in silence (there are good doctors around too).

But how about turning the evil box off around 7 pm for a start? How about making a proper family environment for dinner, reading and quieting down? How about turning it off for good? You can watch all the shows you like on the in internet anyway (check here on sources to find all the TV shows on the internet).

Although I don´t have a TV, it definitely doesn´t mean that Luísa never watches it. For this, I would have to isolate myself from all the people I know, never go to their houses and never let Luísa go to a playmate house. She does get a portion of TV. I don´t forbid her to watch elsewhere, and of course, when she has the opportunity, she is glued to the monitor. But at least is the minimum available for us.

Since I don´t have the habit of watching TV anymore, whenever I do, I can get pretty hooked too. I love watching documentaries and sitcoms when I´m sitting in front of cable TV. But I also get tired of it so quickly. The news are a horrible way of mass domination, it´s so easy to see it once you don´t watch it often. People still buy the idea that it´s informative, when it is actually delivering all sorts of political ideologies, fake necessities and fear.

All the information you need is available from much more reliable sources. And the amount of publicity you get exposed to is just overwhelming. Not to mention you are not trained to get rid of the marketers influence. It´s like you offer your home for sellers to come in and sit in your couch with you for hours, with a smile from your face.

There are very good cartoons on TV too. On Discovery Kids, I love Pocoyo, Charlie and Lola and Pinky Dinky Doo to name a few. But the publicity that gets in the middle is a killer. First, they get your kid´s attention. When the kid is hooked, they stop it to present useless toys and stuff. The young kids get confused because they think the cartoon is over and is not, but early enough they learn to wait for all the crap to finish in order to keep watching the goodies. I´ve seen it happening to Luísa, she would complain that the cartoon was over, but now she waits for the commercials to finish.

But even worse is that all those commercials are made to make your kid ask for those products and feel bad about themselves if they don´t get them. Slowly TV builds a low self esteem in the children like it does to all of us adults too.

As I mentioned earlier I do let Luísa watch videos. I do use them as a babysitter like most parents. What I do is buy some DVDs of some nice cartoons, like Pocoyo which is made for improving vocabulary and if you can let your kid watch it with no commercials, than it can be really good. If you can use them in a second language like I do, even better.

The turn off button is there for a reason: use it.

I´d love us to talk about this more. Do you watch TV? How do you filter the bad information that´s coming in? If you don´t watch it, how did you quit it? How can we inspire other people to shut it off?

Here are some interesting sources on this subject:

A Creative Alternative to Baby TV Time

The Eletronic Pacifier: No TV Under Two!

How TV Affects Your Child

Television´s Impact on Children

Photo Credit

This article was originally posted on Tripping Mom by Marilia Di Cesare on October 14, 2010. Republished with authorization. Click here for all other posts.

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