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5 Tips for Watching Television With Your Kids

by Sylvia Miller

According to studies, the average American child watches 1500 hours of television in a year. While this may seem excessive, and there are valid reasons to limit how much television your child watches, the answer isn't necessarily to cut out TV altogether. Instead, help your children watch TV responsibly in a way that benefits their development by following these tips:

Focus on Educational Programming

Educational television for kids is designed to entertain while simultaneously teaching them new skills and lessons. Kids can learn about different cultures, interesting science facts, and even behavioral skills like sharing from educational programming. In fact, studies have shown that exposure to educational TV shows helps reduce aggressive behavior and increase cooperative behavior in children.

Be Mindful and Deliberate

Instead of just leaving the television on all the time as background noise, try only turning it on when you are deliberately sitting down to watch something. If you leave the television on all the time, it can become very distracting and make it hard for your kids to focus on homework or have meaningful conversations with you.

Bring TV Into Real Life Experiences

Instead of letting the shows your kids watch exist in a vacuum, try incorporating things they enjoy on television into real life experiences. For example, if your kids love shows about cartoon dinosaurs, bring them to the science museum to explore the dinosaur exhibit. You can follow this up with reading books about dinosaurs together. This way television becomes just one element of a rich, meaningful life.

Watch with Them

Ideally, you should always know what your kids are watching on TV. This will allow you to set boundaries and guidelines, preventing them from watching anything violent or that otherwise violates your family's values. Plus, if you watch television together you can let it lead to educational conversations. Let your kids ask questions about what they see on TV and create open dialogues based around anything they might find confusing or strange.

Know When to Turn It Off

Watching TV together as a family can be great, but you should also know when to turn the TV off and do other things. Make sure your kids have plenty of time for exercise, playing outside, reading books, and just enjoying some quiet time. Then, they can watch their favorite shows in a well-rested, energized state of mind.

You don't have to cut out cable TV to raise thoughtful, well-rounded kids. Instead, use these tips to help make your family television time more meaningful and beneficial.

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