Limit children’s exposure to electronics this summer

Consider these facts before putting your child in front of the television for summer entertainment.

Summer is here! A lot of children spend more time in the summer doing organized outdoor activities or just playing outside. However, some children will be in front of the television either playing video games, watching movies and cartoons or on the computer, browsing the internet. A lot of parents want their children to be able to use electronic technology skillfully. Children do learn from all experiences, electronic or otherwise – they learn reality from fantasy, how to get along with others and resolve conflict, how to play pretend, how to problem solve and to think logically.

However, the most effective way for children to learn these skills is by interacting with others and by simply playing with toys they can manipulate and handle. Children need guidance and limits set firmly by parents and other adults so that they are able to grow and learn effectively. They thrive on personal relationships and pleasant touch. I assure you they will not obtain that by watching television, playing video games or surfing the internet. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no more than one or two hours of educational nonviolent viewing time per day for children over age two because research has found that excessive television watchers:

  • have fewer hobbies
  • are more prone to obesity
  • are influenced by commercial messages about toys and foods that are unhealthy
  • watch commercials which promote materialism
  • create appetites for expensive items that have little real value
  • play less with friends
  • may score lower on academic tests
  • are more prone to violent or aggressive behavior

Here are some things you can do to limit television, video game and computer time this summer or any other time:

  • Don’t use them as a babysitter.
    The less time a child spends entertained by television, video games and computers, the better he or she will be able to entertain themselves.
  • Set a weekly time/viewing limit.
    You can rule out media at certain times of the day.
  • Select appropriate educational shows that your child can choose from.
    The same goes for video games (rated “EC” for “early childhood,” “E” for “everyone”)
  • Watch appropriate television shows and play video games together as a family.
  • Limit the number of television sets in your home.
  • Do not use television, video game time or computer time as an award or a punishment.
    This will increase the importance of those things.
  • Be prepared to stick to your convictions!

For summer activity ideas, visit the Family and Youth Development sections of this website.

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