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Too Much Television

Education Expert Advice from Peggy Gisler, Ed.S. and Marge Eberts, Ed.S.

Q: My wife and I have been discussing limiting our children's television time. We have a daughter 11, and a son, 9. Both are doing super in school, but we feel they are watching too much television. What do you believe is an acceptable amount of time to watch per week?

A: We don't know how much television your children are viewing, but the average for children in this country is about 20 hours a week. Even if all this viewing time were devoted to quality programming, it would be severely limiting time for other valuable activities. Childhood is a period of growth and development when children need to read, play alone and with other children, explore their interests, learn new skills, exercise, and think.

You should limit your children's viewing to one or two hours per day. Your children probably won't like being kept away from the TV set. But establishing good habits that will enhance their development is worth the effort. Television watching is often more habit than choice.

You can easily eliminate some TV watching by setting a few basic rules, such as no television during meals, or until household tasks and homework are completed. Also, encourage your children to plan their viewing by using a TV Guide or newspaper listing rather than flipping through the channels to decide what to watch. Your family should turn on your set for specific programs turn it off when they are over.

Don't be surprised if your children go through a sort of withdrawal when their television time is reduced. You can ease the transition by encouraging and participating in such alternative activities as sports, games, chores, reading, conversation, or hobbies. Because children model their behaviors after their parents' example, an examination of your own TV-viewing habits may also help. Be a good model yourself.

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Peggy Gisler and Marge Eberts are experienced teachers who have more than 60 educational publications to their credit. They began writing books together in 1979. Careers for Bookworms was a Book-of-the-Month Club paperback selection, and Pancakes, Crackers, and Pizza received recognition from the Children's Reading Roundtable. Gisler and Eberts taught in classrooms from kindergarten through graduate school. Both have been supervisors at the Butler University Reading Center.

Please note: This "Expert Advice" area of should be used for general information purposes only. Advice given here is not intended to provide a basis for action in particular circumstances without consideration by a competent professional. Before using this Expert Advice area, please review our General and Medical Disclaimers.

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