How to Regulate TV and Media Access by Kids

It’s been three months now since our TV broke down. Apparently, we are four in the neighborhood that had a busted TV due to a sudden power outage that night. There was a thunderstorm and we forgot to immediately unplug our TV when the lightning hit. We should have acted quickly as we have prior experience of having a broken gadget due to the same reason.

No TV - Advantage or Disadvantage?

Now, the question is whether having no TV for 3 weeks is a blessing? And the next question is whether we will get it fixed or buy a new one?

For now, we haven’t really decided yet whether to buy or fix the TV. But, I think, not having a TV is a blessing somehow. I can get more things done because I don’t get distracted to watch TV while doing something else. The children are not complaining that much about not being able to watch TV also. In fact, we’ve had some fun and healthy discussions and interactions after eating dinner at night, which we seldom do with the TV on.

There are also disadvantages. I guess the kids aren’t complaining about the “no TV” because they can watch some missed TV programs via the internet. The problem is and the reason why I don’t totally agree on this set-up is the potential eye-strain on the kids, plus the fact that it’s difficult to get their attention, just the same, when their eyes are on the computer screen. Also, I feel somehow detached from the world because I’m not the type of person who likes reading news — I watch the news.

We will settle the fix or buy issue sometime later, but for the rest of this post I will share an old post about the question “Is multimedia good or bad?” I was reminded about this topic because of the need to regulate the kids’ TV or internet access. I wrote it in February 2008 for another blog, but since I already deleted that blog, here’s the blog post:

Television, see what it is doing to our children! Here is the scenario. I turned on the TV because it is time to sleep. Janel who is watching started to cry and madly told me “No! No! No! D’s. D’s.” (Gina D’s Kids Club is her favorite TV show).

And that is just the beginning. The kids of this generation are experiencing a multimedia explosion. There are cable/satellite TVs, DVDs, high-end cellphone (with MP3, Videocam, internet access, etc), portable games (PSP, Gameboy), computer and internet access (You Tube and online games), etc.

Is that all bad? Well, they were invented to fill in a felt need in the first place. But when they dominate our lives and influence us towards the “common bad”, that is a different story.

What Parents Can Do to Regulate Media Access of Their Kids

So what can we as parents do to regulate the impact of these multimedia in our kids’ lives? Dr. James Dobson answers this question in one of his books. He suggested that parents should do 3 things in relation to watching TV in particular (but I think the principle applies to other multimedia).

First, monitor the quality of programs our children watch.

It would be good for us to watch with our children. It can be a pleasant family activity. We can use it as a springboard to teach and have healthy discussions. As a practice, we have programmed our TV to show only what is on the favorites list – a list of programs our children can watch. Including Christian programs sure helps to balance their TV viewing.

Second, regulate the quantity of programs they see.

How much is enough? Dr. Dobson mentioned that the average preschool child watches up to 54 hours of TV per week. “That is way too much!” he says.

So, how can we regulate that? One creative suggestion is the use of tickets. Each child is given tickets per week that he can use to “buy” privileges for watching TV. When his tickets are gone, his viewing is over for the week. This limitation also teaches him to choose wisely choose as to what to watch.

Third, include the entire family in establishing the TV policy, if possible.

This would help make the regulation more binding if everyone in the family agrees. I hope this piece of information becomes an eye-opener to all of us. I must admit, I’m guilty as well in not imposing proper regulations of the use of multimedia upon our children. Many, including myself, have fallen to the trap of using multimedia to “babysit” our children for comfort’s sake. We must change our ways at once before it becomes too late.

“Everything is permissible for me” – but not everything is beneficial. “Everything is permissible for me” – but I will not be mastered by anything. (1 Corinthians 6:12)

Apparently, Paul wrote this verse to correct some Christians who were excusing their sin by saying that the Scripture does not strictly forbid what they were doing. As an application of this word today, we can say that the use of multimedia is not a sin in itself. Neither is it forbidden by Scripture, but excess use of it is not beneficial as it can control our lives and lead us away from Christ.


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