TV's influence on children

TV's Influence on Children- 4

Do you give consent by remaining silent? Many parents react with silence when a television program is misleading to our children.  Unfortunately, this gives a child the impression that what they are seeing on a TV program is accurate or correct information, when it isn't.

Think about all of the programs on television today and how the information presented in them might be confusing or downright distorted to a child.  Even many of the cartoons on television today can be misleading and inappropriate for children to watch.

By keeping silent, a parent is not able to help challenge a child's perception of what they are seeing and the silence ends up telling a child that what they are viewing is "okay".  Speaking up is important to do, in order to help a child develop a sense of what is right and wrong.

It's important for parents to become familiar with what the contents of a TV program are.  Know what your child is watching.  This way, a parent is able to choose a program that is in the child's best interests.

Watch appropriate TV shows together as a family.  This helps to reinforce to a child that the parents are also making good choices when it comes to TV viewing.  If a child see's a parent watching unhealthy TV shows, but isn't allowed to watch them, it gives a message of "do as I say, not as I do".  Be a good role model for your children to make good choices with what they are feeding their brain!

Encourage your child to voice their opinion and speak their mind with the things they see on television.  This can result in good family discussion of topics that open up family communication.  Age appropriate topics (depending on where your child or teen is at in their emotional development), such as teen pregnancy, drugs and alcohol and safety precautions are good topics that can spark connecting conversations as a family and help each family member to learn more about the other.

The overall theme of this week's blog is that parents need to call the signals and guide their children when it comes to television viewing-- including how much television to watch and what is appropriate to see.  How do you help guide your children when it comes to TV?

Adapted from:  Parent Group Counseling by Frieda A. Lang

Joleen Watson, MS, NCC, is a therapist at Imagine Hope Counseling Group. She enjoys doing marriage counseling, relationship counseling, couples counseling, and individual counseling.  Imagine Hope also specializes in family, child and adolescent counseling and serves Indianapolis area including the surrounding areas of Carmel, Noblesville, Zionsville, Westfield, and Fishers.

TV's Influence on Children-3

Do You Interrupt, Interpret, or Mediate the Programs Watched By Your  Children? If your children are at all like mine, they watch very different shows than we did at their age. Shows developed for children today are infused with adult humor or may contain content that is not clear to kids.  Younger children will gain more knowledge if an adult or older brother or sister talks about the content or rephrases some of the larger words used.  Doing this shows young children that you are present with them and engaged in the same thing that they are.

When you have the television on and are watching a show, talk about what is going on with your child.  Ask questions and talk about what you think is happening.  When you have these talks with your child that center around what your child is interested in, they can see your views and values in their world.

However, if you are watching television with your teen, a direct conversation may seem annoying and pushy.  Teens like to believe they understand everything and do not need further explanation from parents.   Here I like to use "meta leveling" or sharing with another adult within ear shot of the teen.  This way, the teen hears what you believe and hears your values about the content of the television.

It is important to note that preschool aged children struggle knowing what is real on TV versus what is not real.  When you watch TV, you can have conversations to help children perceive, organize and understand the information in the program.  When you make comments like, "Wouldn't that be funny if real life cats could talk" when watching cartoons with with your child, you validate that they understand that TV is pretend.  You can influence your child's attitudes by commenting on their programing.

*Source: Parent Group Counseling by Frieda A. Lang, Ed. D.

Written by Alexa Griffith, LMHC, LCAC, NCC, RPT

Alexa Griffith, LMHC, LCAC, NCC, RPT is a licensed therapist and Registered Play Therapist at Imagine Hope Counseling Group. Alexa enjoys doing marriage counseling, individual counseling, couples and relationship counseling. Alexa also does play therapyfamily counseling, child counseling, and adolescent counseling. Imagine Hope serves the Indianapolis area, including the surrounding areas of Carmel, Fishers, Noblesville, Zionsville, and Westfield



TV’s Influence On Children-2

Do You Use TV as a Reward, or to Punish Bad Behavior? This is ultimately not a good idea either way. Rewards and punishments need to relate to the behavior as closely as possible.

For example, if your child fails to come inside from playing with the neighbors after you repeatedly call for them, an appropriate punishment would be to not allow them to play with neighbor kids or outside for "x" number of days. Punishing your child by taking away a TV program would not be relevant to the situation.

On the other hand, if you offer TV as a reward for a certain evening, what if the programs on TV that evening are all inappropriate for your child? Do you take back your offer, disappointing your child? If so, your child may learn they cannot trust you as their parent to keep promises for good behavior.

At the same time, using TV as a reward and punishment system puts too much importance and value on television. Use rewards and punishments that relate to the behaviors at hand. Instead, choose rewards and punishments based on the values of the family and what your family finds important.

*Source: Parent Group Counseling by Frieda A. Lang, Ed. D.

Written by: Tamara Wilhelm MA, LMHC, LCAC

*Tamara enjoys doing marriage counseling, individual counseling, & couples counseling  at Imagine Hope. We also specialize in family counseling, child & adolescent counseling. Imagine Hope serves the Indianapolis area, including the surrounding areas of Carmel, Noblesville, Zionsville, Westfield & Fishers.