Your Child from TV
By Dr. Sally Robinson and Dr. Keith Bly
Department of Education estimates that kids watch an average of
five hours of television every day. Children that watch too much
television spend less time playing, reading, interacting with others
and are more likely to be overweight and aggressive. According to
the American Academy of Pediatrics, children under two should not
watch any television, and children over two should be limited to
two hours per day. Parents should also be aware of what their children
The age-group rating system, which is modeled after the movie rating
system, is a great tool to help parents decide what their children
should watch. It has been estimated that children see over 12,000
acts of violence on TV per year and childrens TV programming
contains about 20 violent acts per hour.
Toddlers and preschoolers are not able to tell the difference between
reality and fantasy that they see on television, and children that
watch violent television shows have more anxiety, according to some
studies. Children that regularly watch violent TV may develop aggressive
behavior and attitudes, become desensitized to real world violence,
or develop a fear of being victimized.
Television sets made after 2000 are equipped with a device called
a v-chip, that allows parents to program televisions
to block inappropriate programming. V-chips dont block programs
on television that arent rated, such as news, sports, and
commercials, which often show acts of violence, so it is important
to preview what your child watches and turn of the TV if the show
is not suitable.
Parents should be responsible for what their children watch and
several things that can be done to ensure that your child is not
exposed to inappropriate shows are:
Setting limits on the amount of television that children
watch to one or two hours at the most.
Hiding the remote. Flipping through channels encourages passive
viewing and your child might switch the TV to an age-inappropriate
Not letting your child have a television in his or her bedroom.
Put the family television in a central area of your home.
Watch the program with them so that you are there to monitor
what they are watching. Avoid programming that has violent or sexual
content and encourage children to watch shows with characters that
show cooperation and caring.
Make use of the ratings system and know what your children
are watching and whether or not the program is suitable for their
Be a good role model for your child by setting an example
with your own TV viewing habits. Dont watch programs that
contain adult content when your child is in the room or nearby.
Offer alternatives to watching TV to your child, such as
playing a board game, reading, playing outside, working on crafts
or hobbies or listening to music.
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a physician.
Dr. Sally Robinson is Professor of Pediatrics, and Dr. Keith Bly
is Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Texas
Medical Branch at Galveston Children's Hospital. For more information,
visit: www.utmb.edu. This information
is not intended to replace the advice of a physician.