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For Parents

TV Viewing Tips for Families

Don't watch television, watch programs.
Check the listings instead of using the remote control to aimlessly search for something to watch. If you can't find a program you are excited about after you check the listings, then don't turn on the TV.

Know what your children are watching.
You wouldn't allow a babysitter to come into your home and spend hours teaching your children things that contradict your own values. That is exactly what TV does unless you pay attention to what your children are viewing.

Practice active viewing.
Talk with your children about what they are viewing. Sing along, dance, ask children to predict what will happen next. Read related children's books and plan other activities that extend TV's positive messages.

Help children think about what they see.
Ask the questions and give your children a chance to tell you their answers. Ask questions like "Did the hero solve the problem the way you would have?" or "Tell me what you like most/least about he show." Asking questions requires children to think about what they see and can help develop imagination, memory and critical thinking skills.

Limit television viewing.
Remember, your children need lots of time to move, talk, play and interact with others. Set clear guidelines for when and how long the TV can be on.

Choosing Appropriate TV for Children

Ask yourself these questions when deciding what programs your children should watch:

Is the program educational?
Children have a lot to learn and educational programs can help them learn important skills that help prepare them for school and for life.

Is the program too complicated for children to understand?
A program's language, situations, ideas, and actions should be familiar to young children so they can follow the story.

Is violence the predominant way to solve conflict?
Children need to see characters using their words to communicate, cooperate, and compromise to solve problems and conflicts.

Are the characters diverse?
Look for programs that show diverse people in positive realistic situations, whether they are people with disabilities, from different parts of the world, or different gender, ages or races.

Are the characters role models for good behavior?
Children often imitate their favorite television characters. Choose programs that feature characters that act as you would like your children to act and who treat other as you would like your children to be treated.

Does the program present real world scenarios that children can identify with and learn from?
Look for programs that feature children involved in the same types of situations your own children face everyday: going to preschool, going to the doctor, sharing toys, trying new foods, etc.
WTTW11 devotes over 60 hour each week to quality, education children's programs that help your child be Ready to Learn at school.

Books that Explain TV - for Kids:

These excellent children's books help explain what happens behind the television program in a language your child can understand.

Arthur's TV Trouble, by Marc Brown. Little/Brown, 1995.

The Bionic Bunny Show, by Marc Brown and Laurene Krasny Brown. Little/Brown, 1990.

Mouse TV, by Matt Novak. Orchard Books, 1994.

No More Television, by Phillipe Dupasquier. Anderson, 1995.

Ramona: Behind the Scenes of a Television Show, by Elaine Scott and Margaret Miller. Morrow Junior Books, 1988.

Take a look, It's in a Book. How Television is Made at Reading Rainbow, by Ronnie Krauss. Walker and Company, 1997.

Television: What's Behind What You See, by W. Careter Merbreier, Linda Capus Riley and Michael Chesworth. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1996.

When the TV Broke, by Harriet Ziefer. Penguin Books, 1993.

Books that Explain TV - for Parents:

The Smart Parent's Guide to Kids' TV, by Milton Chen, Ph.D. KQED Books, 1994.

TV Proof Your Kids, A Parent's Guide to Safe and Healthy Viewing, by Lauryn Axelrod. Citadel Press Books, 1997.

Remote Control Childhood: Combating the Hazards of Media Culture, by Diane E. Levin. National Association for the Education of Young Children, 1998.

Screen Smarts: A Family Guide to Media Literacy, by Gloria de Gaetano and Kathleen Bander. Houghton Mifflin, 1996.

Media Literacy Resources Online:

Center for Media Literacy
This site contains an online catalog and tips for parents and teachers

Media Awareness Network website
This Canadian website is an excellent resource for everyone

Signal to Noise website

Visit WordWorld!

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