TV and kids—it’s a combination that’s hard to avoid sometimes. If your family does enjoy some TV time (in moderation), here are some tips to help make watching TV a positive learning experience for your little one.
Watch what your child watches
If you do allow your little one to watch TV, try to choose educational programs over pure entertainment shows, and avoid violent shows altogether. Studies show that kids who watch educational and non-violent children’s shows do better on reading and math tests than children who do not watch these programs. TV program classifications can assist you to choose shows that are most suitable for your child’s age, but it can also help to preview programs before your little one watches them, or try watching them together. You could watch just the first few minutes of a show to see whether it is educational and appropriate for your child.
Use TV to build on learning
Some TV shows can educate, inform and inspire. TV can be more effective than books for showing your child processes like how a plant grows or how to make a cake. Try to choose shows about things your little one is interested in like space, animals or machines.
Talk about it
Try to talk to your child about the programs they are watching, and if they are old enough, you can also ask them questions about what they have seen. This could be as simple as saying, ‘What was the song they were singing?’ or ‘What letter were they talking about?’ For older children, try asking them to describe what happened in the show and talk about the difference between reality and make-believe.
Offer some alternatives to TV
Try to keep other non-screen entertainment like books, magazines, toys, musical instruments, puzzles and board games in the room where your TV is. This makes it easier to encourage children to do one of the other fun activities at hand. Try to encourage your little one to do active play too, like dancing, running and jumping.
Be conscious of the time you and your family watch TV
Try to set screen time guidelines for your family, according to the ages of your children. Some parents find it helpful to have a weekday ban on TV—recording shows and saving TV time for weekends. Another great way to limit TV watching is to keep TVs and internet connections out of bedrooms. You could also try turning off the TV during meals or in the mornings (this can help make the morning routine run a bit faster too!).