Watching TV together

Children view television differently than adults. Their understanding of television is related to their own experiences. Children pay attention to TV shows that are similar to their age, gender, social status and ethnicity. Children mimic their behavior after their parents. If you do no like what your children are watching consider changing your own viewing habits.

Watch it! : what parents need to know to raise media-smart kids
Mary Strom Larson.
Highland City, FL : Rainbow Books, c2009.
Virtually all parents believe that "other kids may be influenced by the media, but my kid isn't." However, up until about the age of eight, kids are not able to distinguish between fantasy and reality. So they actually don't know the difference between real life and what they see, hear and learn on TV, radio, video games and the Internet.
Anytime playdate : inside the preschool entertainment boom, or, how television became my baby's best friend
Dade Hayes.
New York : Free Press, 2008.
"Going behind the scenes to talk with executives, writers, and marketers who see the value of educational TV, Dan Hayes finds research that watching TV may raise IQs and increase vocabularies. On the other side, he brings in the voices of pediatricians and child psychologists who warn against "babysitter TV" and ask whether "TV trance" is healthy - in spite of the relaxation that the lull affords exhausted parents - as recent studies link early television viewing with obesity, attention and cognitive problems, and violence." "Anytime Playdate reveals the marketing science of capturing a toddler's attention, examining whether Baby Einstein and its ilk will make babies smarter, or if, conversely, television makes babies passive and uncritical, their imaginations colonized by marketing schemes before they even speak. Hayes portrays the educators, psychologists, executives, parents, and, lest we forget, kids who have shaped the history of children's television, uncovering the tensions between the many personalities, the creative format that combines story, music, and message in this medium to produce today's almost dizzying array of products and choices."--BOOK JACKET.
Into the minds of babes : how screen time affects children from birth to age five
Lisa Guernsey.
New York : Basic Books, c2007.
"As a mother, Lisa Guernsey wondered about the influence of television on her two young daughters. As a reporter, she resolved to find out. What she first encountered was tired advice, sensationalized research claims, and a rather Draconian mandate from the American Association of Pediatrics: no TV at all before the age of two. But like many parents, she wanted straight answers and realistic advice, so she kept digging: she visited infant-perception labs and child development centers around the country. She interviewed scores of parents, psychologists, cognitive scientists, and media researchers, as well as programming executives at Noggin, Disney, Nickelodeon, Sesame Workshop and PBS. Much of what she found flies in the face of conventional wisdom and led her to conclude that new parents will be best served by focusing on "the three C's": content, context, and the individual child." "Into the Minds of Babes is a book that points out how little credible research exists to support the AAP's dire recommendation. Parents, teachers, and psychologists will be relieved to learn positive approaches to using videos with young children and will be empowered to make their own informed choices."--BOOK JACKET.

Parents who watch television along with their children and talk about what they watch can interest their children in seeing those programs from a different perspective. Share your comments, questions and adult insights with them. Asking the "why" and "what" questions make your child think about the TV programs they watch. It also opens up a line of communication so together you can make better decisions on what to watch.

Together you can check through the TV listings and plan what shows you will watch. Encourage them to watch a variety of programs appropriate for their level of understanding. To help your child understand TV discuss the different types of programs such as news, sitcoms and variety shows, and how those shows are created by writers, producers and actors.

TV Ratings

TV Y - All Children
TV Y7 - Children age 7 and above
TV G - General Audience
TV PG - Parental Guidance Suggested

TV Parental Guidelines

Children need your help to understand the difference between the program and commercial. Sometimes they have difficulty understanding the disclaimer like batteries not included or some assembly required. Help children to analyze commercials and recognize exaggerated claims.

Television can be an educational tool for children if they select appropriate programs and take the time to think about what they watch.

Article by: St. Louis Public Library staff