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- Articles on Teen Issues
Encouraging Your Teen to Watch Less TV
In a typical American home, the TV is on for over 7 hours each day. This startling information gives parents justifiable concern over the amount of time their teen spends in front of the TV. Watching television keeps teens from other activities such as reading, socializing, and sports, which help them build skills and stay healthy. Even though some programs are educational, these shows are not the ones teens tend to watch.
Research has shown continuously watching TV affects brain development. Too much television can contribute to poor grades, sleep problems, behavior problems, and obesity. Teens spend too much time in front of the television and either don't do their homework or they don't pay attention to the subject matter while they are studying. This causes them to miss information and do poorly on tests.
Watching late night television is a contributing factor to insomnia and fatigue in teens, because they are staying up too late. This can also contribute to poor performance in school. It can also make your teen more irritable and difficult to get along with. They could become less interested in other activities like sports or cheerleading, because they are just too tired to participate.
Obesity is becoming an epidemic in the United States, and obese children are more likely to become obese adults. Television contributes to this problem because children aren't getting the exercise they need. They also tend to snack more often while they are watching television, and research shows that eating while watching TV has an even worse effect of 'hooking' children to TV. It starts a bad habit and reinforces teen's dependence on television.
Children see about 10,000 television rapes, assaults, and murders each year. Seeing this kind of violence on TV once is damaging, but over time repeated exposure can
- Make teens immune to horror or violence,
- Cause them to adopt violence as a problem solver
- Lead to more aggressive behavior
- Promote more risky behavior such as risky stunts, substance abuse, and promiscuity
Repeated exposure to TV violence makes teens less sensitive to its effects on victims and the suffering violence causes. Most violent acts go unpunished on television and are sometimes accompanied by humor.
How can you get your teen to watch less TV?
Consider not allowing your teen to have a television in their room, because of the connection between too much TV and poor school performance and sleep problems. If your teen already has a television in their room, develop a way to restrict their watching. For example, certain TV channels or programs can be blocked through parental controls. You can also install a timer that cuts power to the television after a certain hour at night. This will keep teens from watching shows that include violence or adult content, and keep them from watching TV too late at night.
Parents need to be diligent about the amount of TV their teen is watching. Talk to your teen about what programs they would like to watch, and then develop a schedule where you can sit and watch the program with them. Restrict the schedule to include only programs and not blocks of time. This way your teen will be watching a half hour show rather than sitting in front of the TV before and after that show they wanted to watch.
Parents should not make watching TV a reward or punishment. It will only give undue importance to watching television. It's better to allow teens to watch certain programs for a limited amount of time.
Parents should also separate important family activities from watching TV like eating dinner. Make the effort to sit down at the kitchen table and eat dinner as a family without the TV on. This will cut back on the need for television and will enable better communication in the family.
Parents can help their teen maintain a diary for a few days in order to help their teen see how much time they are spending watching TV. They can also track what activities they may have missed while watching television. For instance, friends call and want to know if they'd like to go to the beach. By noting the shows they watched, they can determine if they learned anything from watching those shows. In the end, your teen is more likely to see how limited the rewards of viewing TV for long hours actually are.
Certain time or days of the week can also be designated as 'no television' time. Instead, these times can be designated for homework, reading, outdoor activity, or spending time with family. Family activities can include bike rides or game nights. When the entire family spends time together, parents can easily build and maintain bonds with their teen.
Parents can also encourage their teen to be more active in sports or other recreational activities, making hours in front of the TV less appealing to teens.
Fast Facts About Adolescents
The amount of time an adolescent watches soaps, movies and music videos is associated with their degree of body dissatisfaction and desire to be thin.
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