The spectrum of programs available for our viewing pleasure range from wretched, time-wasting trash to amazing, unforgettable entertainment. How does a father best manage the time our family spends with this influential box of time-wasting delight?
Whether good, bad, or indifferent, television characters influence the personality development of young children. As kids observe acts of love, kindness, and heroism, they tend to imitate these displays with propensities towards goodness, empathy, and bravery. Informative and educational television programs can support vocabulary, augment learning about science and history, immerse children in various arts and cultures, and spark interest in sports, athletics, and exercise.
Television can be an extremely fun hobby, granting viewers a temporary respite from reality. While too much time in front of the television can be harmful, enjoyable hobbies bring our lives balance. Pleasurable distractions offer emotional replenishment, a break from our worries, and a healthy escape from real life. Books do this also but in different ways. Reading requires more effort than television, involving our imagination to visualize stories and mentally transport ourselves into different times and places; television is more about relaxing and enjoying the ride.
If families rely on television for most of their entertainment, this harmful dependency can lead to habitual inactivity and screen time addiction, which can spiral into health problems such as obesity, heart disease, cardiovascular problems, and Type-2 diabetes.
Television overindulgence can lead to passive and underdeveloped listening skills. Over-immersion can influence young children who exhibit lazy tendencies to transition into teenage, and eventually, adult couch potatoes. The more frequently they settle for television, the less they are stimulated physically and mentally—too much TV time stunts childhood growth and development.
Movies and television shows tend to depict people with picture-perfect lifestyles and living situations that deviate from reality. Constantly witnessing too-good-to-be-true, viewers can subliminally become less appreciative of the good in their lives and develop feelings of inferiority or inadequacy.
Have you ever heard of fake news? It’s real. Misleading and inaccurate news stories are often portrayed as reality, while relevant and accurate stories might not be shared. The reasons for this are many—a different conversation. Teach children to beware of accepting all messages at face value.
Think of how many hours, weeks, months, and years we spend watching television. If we could go back in time and repurpose some of these times to reading, playing outside, exercising, and socializing with our loved ones, wouldn’t we want a do-over? Rather than sitting in front of an entertaining, but lifeless box, is it better to live our own lives to the fullest? Watching sports, cooking shows, and travel channels cannot offer the vitality from playing sports, cheffin’ it up with our family, or traveling to different parts of the world.
The multi-generational camaraderie experienced while watching an epic television program might be one of the most relaxing and entertaining ways for a family to spend time together. Set a household standard to skip inappropriate content beyond the maturity level of the youngest child watching. Routinely guide kids towards other hobbies and interests; it is good for their soul to keep themselves busy with non-screentime-related activities. Limit exposure by turning the television off when a show is over. Don’t allow kids to have a television in their bedrooms.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends the following limits:
- No screen time for children under 2 (except video chatting)
- One hour per day for toddlers and preschoolers
- Two hours per day for school-aged children and adults (homework withstanding)
Why Shouldn’t Babies & Young Toddlers Watch Television?
Televisions can act as an impromptu babysitter, keeping children busy for hours. Educational and informative programs can inspire great learning. While this might be easy for parents, is it best for young children?
The vulnerable brains of babies and young toddlers are developing at the fastest rate they will ever experience. During this critical time for their social and emotional development, they thrive from the back-and-forth only possible when directly engaging dad; the value gained from watching television pales in comparison to face-to-face interaction. We best care for them by reading with them, speaking with them, encouraging them as they make art or write—and actively participating with them to draw out their creative imagination.
Throughout civilization, stories have passed knowledge and wisdom from generation to generation, offering different perspectives and helping people better understand the world. Today, through movies, professional sports, and television shows, stories are told on-screen. By guiding responsible viewing habits and time restrictions for our households, fathers can give children the best of both worlds: the entertainment of television and the interconnectedness of real life.
“Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.” —Revelation 4:11 KJV
PLEASE NOTE: As an Amazon Associate, Fathers Truly Matter earns from qualifying purchases. The information in this post should not be construed as providing specific psychiatric, psychological, or medical advice, but rather to offer readers information to better understand the lives and health of themselves and their children. It is not intended to provide an alternative to professional treatment or to replace the services of a physician, psychiatrist, or psychotherapist.