- Don't use the television as a baby-sitter. It's easy sometimes to just tell the children to "go watch TV" while you are busy doing something else or just can't think of something else for them to do to occupy their time. This practice may be convenient, but it can become a pattern of indiscriminate TV watching and game playing. Also, if your children are in a day care setting make sure they are participating in games and other activities and not just watching television as a substitute.
- Don't make TV the focal point. Try not to place the television in your children's rooms or in the most prominent place in the home. A television in your children's rooms could encourage more use and limit your ability to monitor its use.
- Set clear limits. Set ground rules such as no television or video games until homework is completed, during meals, daytime hours, or after a specific time. Limit the amount of time for watching television or playing video games to two hours or less.
- Offer more constructive activities. Once you turn off the television, be prepared to explore some alternative activities. Encourage reading, artistic expression such as learning to play an instrument, drawing, writing, or sports activities. Help your children become more active rather than inactive with television or video games.
- Familiarize yourself with movie ratings. Make certain you have a clear understanding of the movie ratings. G indicates appropriate for all ages. PG indicates appropriate for all ages but guidance is suggested. PG-13 indicates some material may be inappropriate for children under 13 and parents are strongly cautioned. R indicates restrictions such as programming not appropriate for children under 17 without a parent or guardian or without consent. NC-17 indicates inappropriate material for children under 17.
- Familiarize yourself with the content of a movie before your child sees it. Pay attention to the reviews of movies in the newspaper and their content. You may want to preview a questionable movie first.
- Choose television programming with your children. Know what your children are watching and volunteer to watch an episode of your children's favorite programming with them. Talk with your children about why they like the program and what you think about the program. Discuss both the "good" and the "bad" programs, movies or video games. This allows you to discover and correct your children's false impressions.
- Prohibit unacceptable programs. Forbid your children from watching TV programs and movies you feel are inappropriate. Be clear about why programs and movies are not appropriate for their viewing. Teach your children critical viewing skills allowing them to be consistent with the values that you enforce.
- Identify quality programming. Teach your children to be critical of commercialized programming that is violent or unrealistic. Give them examples of what you consider quality programming. Discuss and watch these programs with them.
- Discuss the effects of media violence. Talk with your children about how TV and movie characters interact with one another and solve their problems. Ask your children to think of more realistic, non-violent ways that the characters can use to solve their problems and interact with one another. Also discuss violence in video games that your children play and alternative ways to resolve conflict.
- Listen to your childrens' music. Read and listen to the lyrics of the music that your children listen to. Ask them about their favorite performers and what they like about them. Look at the packaging of the compact discs or tapes of their favorite performers.
- Take an interest in local TV programming and movie offerings. Call or write your local television station or movie theater about your approval or disapproval of their programming. Get involved with prevention projects in your area designed to help limit children's exposure to violence.
Media Violence Is A Health Hazard For Kids
Children in South Carolina are exposed to high levels of media violence every day. Studies show that there are about 5 to 6 violent acts per hour on prime time television, and 20 to 25 violent acts on Saturday morning children's programs.
According to estimates, by the time young people graduate from high school, they have viewed over 200,000 acts of violence. The UCLA Television Violence Monitoring Report found theatrical movies and Saturday morning shows raising the most serious concerns.
Repeated exposure to violent television, movies, and music sends the wrong message to children. It desensitizes them to violence and unhealthy behavior. Too much time spent in front of the TV, movie or video game screen can be unhealthy in other ways as well.
Time spent viewing television or movies or video games is time spent not exercising. Countless food commercials aimed at children promote unhealthy foods and don't give children the full picture about a well balanced diet. Television programs and movies portray alcohol use, smoking, and drug use as risk free. Casual sex without consequence is commonplace on television, in movies, and in music. This sends the message that everyone does it without increases in teen pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases.