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Saving Kids from TV Violence

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saving kids from TV violence

Recently I observed a new behavioral change in my 2 year old daughter. I asked her to pick her toys from the floor and put them at their place. All of a sudden she reacted in an aggressive manner and started talking to me in her gibberish (yet sweet) language.

As parents we often neglect new behavioral changes in our kids especially when they seem cute. But I could relate her reaction to a TV show which I was watching a night before while she was in my lap.

She was innocently trying to imitate a scene from the show. As a two year old child she doesn’t know what’s right or wrong for her. I realized it was my mistake to expose her (although unintentionally) to TV violence.

I am sure you will echo with me on this that TV plays a big role in shaping our kid’s behavior and their actions. Sometimes we wonder how did he/she learned a word which no one at home uses.

Our first reaction is often to blame it on their friends in school or neighbors. But if a kid is not going to school or spending time with neighbor kids, then how he/she will catch new behaviors.

I strongly feel that most of the times it’s the TV at home which is the culprit for their spoil. This was an awakening insight to me since I obviously want the best for my children.

While searching more details over internet, I found out that American children watch an average of four hours of television daily. The television can be a powerful influence in developing value systems and shaping their behavior.

Unfortunately, much of today’s television programming is full violent acts, even by an adult’s standards. How would they be impacting a little child’s brain?

This concerns me a lot and I decided to do something about it by limiting exposure to TV violence at my home as 2020 resolution.

So, I came up with a set of guidelines for watching TV for everyone at home going forward. I took it’s printout and put it on wall next to power switch.

Here are those guidelines for anyone to use:

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1. Absolutely No to TV Violence when kids are at home

When kids are home, I or my wife won’t turn on any sort of media which could expose us to violence; whether it’s a movie, TV show, news or even radio.

Apparently news are more violent these days than TVs or movies. I used to start my day reading news papers but ever since I stopped it, my life has become more peaceful.

Now a days I follow same morning routine as by most successful people in the world.

2. Watch Progressive Shows Only with Kids

I used to watch lots of documentaries about science and technologies on discovery, history or national geographic channels. Sometimes it used to annoy my mom since she had to watch same boring shows multiple times with me because I was looking for a specific dialog or scene in the documentary which I wanted to watch again or understand more.

In those days, there were no streaming apps such as Netflix or Amazon prime, just plain old cable TV.

Apart from learning a lot through those shows and I believe my kids can do the same. So, focus will be more on documentaries and shows which teach something about a field or two.

3. Make it interesting for kids

Documentaries might get boring for kids which is obvious. You need specific taste and lots of patience to like documentary shows.

Moreover sometimes they are old which doesn’t interest kids at all.

To make it more interesting, I have prepared this list of TV themes to follow monthly for 2020:

  1. January – Learn about China and it’s technological advancement.
  2. February – Everything about money’s history (invention, how it works, etc)
  3. March – Major scientific inventions and how they shaped the world
  4. AprilHow it works series (lots of content on youtube about how things are made from chips to spaceships)
  5. MayMega Structures (classic discovery channel show – a must watch for kids)
  6. JuneMega Cities and how they are being built
  7. JulyAncient aliens series
  8. AugustMystery about Earth, Oceans, Space ( lots of content on Discovery, History and National geographic Channels )
  9. September – Learn about our Planet
  10. October – Learn about climate changes and it’s effects on our earth
  11. November – Learn about robots – BBCs rise of robots series
  12. December – Learn about human body

It’s not an exhaustive list of shows but it’s a good start. I want to keep the theme around a topic for a month so kids get enough time to absorb what they learned about.

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4. Watch TV with Kids

It is no brainer. The most effective way to control what kids watch on TV and keep them away from TV violence is watching it with them.

I have done this mistake in past letting my kids watch youtube while I am busy in other room working. This a bad idea.

Recently while my kids were watching some cartoons on youtube, an advertisement about new upcoming show came up and it was not appropriate from any angle.

I rushed from another room to check on if they have changed to some other suggested video but little folks were not even paying attention to TV and were coloring on papers. There’s a different app in youtube for kids too which I guess is more safer but it’s not available in the smart TV I got.

So, for now it’s important that adults sit with kids while they are watching TV.

5. Alternatives to TV

The best alternative to TV is engaging kids into building good habits and setting them for lifelong success.

If you can get your kids away from screens for long period of time, consider yourself a hero.

It’s very hard and I have tried it multiple times.

But this year, I pledge visiting public library more with my daughters (both of them loves to read and bring books from library).

I have also bought some family games to play with them often and skip TV on certain days. They only thing to keep in mind while trying this is to have really interesting games and do it slowly otherwise it can backfire badly.

I bought chess to play with my 8 year old and she loved it for couple of days but then wanted TV to be on while playing it next time. This is something avoid since the whole purpose of this exercise is to keep them away from TV.

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6. Limit TV time

My TV doesn’t have this feature but I sincerely hope that TVs should have a feature to limit watch time.

What I propose is a TV app which will automatically shut TV off after a set time period and won’t start until a break time is over (say 4 hours).

If user tries to play something on it again before break period is complete, TV will not play anything.

It will be harsh a bit but even we adults need this app.

In the absence of such an app, I came up with an idea of TV police at home.

The idea is simple. When I am watching something then other people are TV police and keep track of how long I had been watching my shows so they can remind me it’s long enough for me and I should take a break.

When kids are watching TV, then I or their mom is acting as a TV police to remind them when it’s time to switch it off.

We had been doing it for couple of days now it’s kind of fun and kids are enjoying being TV policing me.

The goal is here is to bring everyone on board and held responsible for others in the family. 

I hope these steps will help me limit the exposure to TV violence not just for kids but for adults at home too. 

Moreover, we can enjoy more family time and learn together with kids.

If you have more ideas about protecting our kids from TV violence please share with all of us in the comments below.

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Saving Kids from TV Violence

saving kids from TV violence

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