It’s up to each family to decide what role television plays in their family life, how much to, watch, which programmes to view, even where the set is to be located in the home. Here are some ideas to keep in mind before you turn on the set.
• The TV set can be simply another home appliance whose use is monitored by the parents. Many parents set limits on their children’s viewing so that they have time and energy to develop a multitude of interests. Most children are comfortable with rules — even welcome them, despite occasional gripes — if the rules are fair and the children understand them.• You might consider keeping the TV set on a table with wheels so that it can be unplugged and moved out of the way when not in use. Some parents find that storing the TV in a cupboard encourages the whole family to choose only those programmes they really want to watch.
• If your set goes on the blink, you may want to use this as a chance to take an extended holiday from TV. Wait before having it repaired, and see what other kinds of activities — like reading, conversation, evening walks, games — your family turns to instead.
• Try not to set up television viewing as a reward for reading. If you say, ‘You can watch a half hour of TV for every half hour you read’, your children may get the message that reading is a chore and that TV is a treat you value highly.
• Try looking at your own TV viewing through the eyes of your children. If they see you thoughtfully choosing a show to watch and turning on the set only when you want to see something special, they may want to do likewise. If they see you spending time with books, magazines, newspapers, board games, hobbies and other alternatives to TV, they. will learn valuable lessons about spending their free time. Of course, children pick up a whole range of habits from parents. If they see you watching hour after hour -of television, they may follow suit.
• When you sit down with your children to watch a show together (an excellent idea in its own right), talk with them about the programme. What do they like? Dislike? What’s happening in the story? Was it believable? The point here is to use the TV show as a way to talk with your children, not to turn the conversation into a quiz. Look for ways to use TV shows as conversation starters.