Pulling The Plug on TV Violence

This brochure provides information about the influence of television violence on children and offers tips to parents about what they can do. The AAP recommends that children under 2 years not watch television and children over 2 years watch 2 hours or less per day. The brochure begins with a series of facts about the influence of television on children and then suggests specific things that parents can do, like (1) set limits on television time, (2) know what children are watching, (3) do not put a television in a child's room, (4) use a V-chip on new televisions, and (5) watch programs with children so that parents can comment on the violence that they see.

How to Use This Tool

This is a difficult topic for many parents. Television provides free in-home child care for many families and is often used to occupy a child when parents are trying to get something of their own done, such as cooking dinner. It is also known that children in lower socioeconomic groups watch more TV than other children and that the television may be used not only for the reasons listed, but as an alternative if playing outside is considered dangerous. Part of the challenge of this topic is in identifying alternatives to television viewing.

  • Parents need to be counseled to expect approximately 2 weeks of resistance when they first begin enforcing limits on TV viewing. Parents need to have toys, such as art supplies, that use the imagination or, preferably, encourage physical activities as an alternative to watching television. Many families may find it easier to have a television in the children's room rather than compete for the choice of programming in a common room. An open discussion on this issue can help parents find a satisfactory way to reduce the exposure of their children to television violence.
  • For younger children in child care or in the care of a relative, it would be appropriate to ask if the children watch television when they are being watched during the day.
Helpful Hint

You can start out by simply asking the child directly, "What's your favorite show on TV?" The child's response will often indicate the kind of television programming being watched and can provide you with a topic to open up the discussion with parents.

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