Tame the Tube and Increase Family Connections

— Written By N.C. Cooperative Extension

National No TV Week is April 23 to 29.  There are many health reasons to watch less television from our challenges to maintain healthy weights to decreasing attention deficit problems in our kids.  But the latest data also shows that the media is influencing our children and becoming more and more the source for their developing values instead of the family. 


Sixty-eight percent of parents surveyed have noted that the media generally impacted their children’s health, but 78% to 87% of the parents did not see the media impacted their children’s health behaviors such as smoking, drinking alcohol or developing unhealthy attitudes about sex.  Parents did feel that it was their responsibility to monitor the media use by their children.  Though they did see it as their responsibility, 68% of the parents felt it was also the media producers responsibility to monitor how media impacts children.  The impact of the media is not just with school aged children and older, the children under 6 years old are watching more and more television.  With the increase ease of getting on the internet, television is not the only media affecting our children.  Media influences include internet sites, television, videos and DVDs as well as video games.


What can families do to combat this influence?  Join others during the week of April 23rd through 29th and make it a TV free week.  You may be surprised how hard this might be for your family, because on average the American household has the TV on for 8 hours a day.  Try these general tips for decreasing TV time and plan what you and your family will do in place of watching the tube.

·        Rearrange the home so that the TV is not in the center of focus.

·        Turn the TV off during meals and use this time to share what has been happening with each other during the day.

·        Start watching TV with your children to monitor what they are being exposed to and discuss the shows or games as a way to influence their developing values.

·        Don’t use the TV as a babysitter.  Try and find other toys and games to keep children occupied while you need to do needed chores around the house or get time to yourself.  Make a list of those things that have worked in the past, such as crayons and paper, and have them on hand.

·        Plan activities to do outdoors, especially during No TV Week

·        Keep a supply of new books from the library at home to encourage reading with out going out and spending a lot on new books.  Make sure your child has a library card of theirown, this creates more interest in books.

·        Start a complex jigsaw puzzle for the family to work on during this week.  Even young children can help older family members with this.


For more information on the media’s influence on children and what parents can do go to Technology and Kids:  What's a Parent to Do? or call our office at 255-5522 for a copy of “Technology and Kids:  What’s a Parent to Do?”.