Research suggests that children may be the most vulnerable to certain negative effects of media use, such as obesity, aggression, fear, and sleep disturbances in the years between birth and school age. At the same time, studies also suggest that educational programming may have some benefits.
Realistically, TV, computers and video games will probably be a part of your child's life, and it is important for you as a parent to figure out how you're going to make sure that time doesn't do more harm than good. According to the parenting experts at Invest in Kids, a charity dedicated to transforming the way Canadian parents are educated and supported, the single most important thing you can do is become involved in what your child is watching at home and at school.
"Although educational TV programming may have some benefits for young children, it is important to keep in mind that for healthy brain development, babies and toddlers need direct interactions with parents and other significant caregivers," says Dr. Palmina Ioannone, a parenting expert with Invest in Kids.
Invest in Kids offers these tips for parents on how to guide their child's television viewing:
• Try to watch, or be close by, whenever your child is watching TV or a DVD. Be sure to talk to him about what he has seen. By engaging your child in a conversation you are turning a solitary activity into a social and learning experience.
• Be aware of what good options are available. Suggest or choose certain stations that don't have commercials during children's programming. And select children's DVDs and video games that are educational as well as entertaining. It can take time to find good options, but your effort will be rewarded.
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• Try to organize activities for the time immediately after a TV program or DVD ends to that your child is eager to get involved in something else.
• Be cautious about letting your child watch programs intended for adults. Many parents think that very young children can't understand the content of adult programs, such as soap operas, crime shows and newscasts. But research is discovering that children might actually be absorbing these scenes. With this in mind, record adult shows for later viewing when infants and young children aren't present.
• Limit your child's TV viewing to no more than two hours a day. This leaves plenty of time for her to do things such as read, draw, play with others and get some exercise.
This content was created by the child development and parenting experts who
developed www.parents2parents.ca. Visit the site to learn more about the ages and stages your young child is experiencing and to share in the parenting journey of other parents just like you.
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