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Fighting the TV Culture

By Mark Brandenburg

A recently completed study at Children's Hospital and Regional Medical Center in Seattle indicated that for every hour a young child (age two or under) watched TV each day, there was a 10% increase in the chances of an attention disorder by the time this child was age seven. This is happening in a country where, according to the Kaiser Family Institute, around 65% of kids age two or under watch at least two hours of TV a day.

We have a TV culture that not only poses risks for young children, it cuts deeply into time that could be devoted to families spending quality time together.

TV is not evil. There are wonderful programs for both adults and kids. And there is a tremendous amount of garbage. One of the most important things you can do as a parent is to set limits on TV watching (and video game playing) while your kids are young. If these limits aren't set early, kids will tend to gravitate towards the garbage that's on the tube, and they'll spend precious time that could be spent more productively.

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When you set limits on TV watching, you'll get some screams and howls from your kids. Don't EVER cave in on these demands, or you'll be sorry. This is your job. Set simple and very clear rules about what they can watch and when they can watch it. Have a time limit on how long they can watch. Many parents have had success with a policy of no TV during the week and a few hours allowed on the weekends.

By all means, at least have a policy of no TV until all homework has been completed. If you want a nightmare around finishing homework, allow them to watch TV before the work is done! Power struggles will naturally follow this policy. Be aware of the desire of your kids to just "watch TV." This usually means flipping channels until your kids can come across a disturbing and violent show or movie.

This is the emotional and mental health of your child that we're talking about here! The average child in this country spends about 28 hours in front of a TV or video game a week, about the amount of time they spend in school. And when a lot of garbage goes in, a lot of garbage comes out. Have the discipline to create other alternatives for your kids.

Here are some ideas:

Limiting the exposure of your kids to TV, especially at a young age, will be one of the most important decisions you make for your child.

They're counting on you-make the right choice.

© Mark Brandenburg MA, CPCC
Mark Brandenburg MA, CPCC, is the author of "25 Secrets of Emotionally Intelligent Fathers". For more great tips and action steps for fathers, sign up for his FREE bi-weekly newsletter, Dads, Don't Fix Your Kids, at


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