Watching TV With Your Kids

For many of us, finding television shows we can watch with our kids is a daunting task. We know we can't *completely* protect them from all of the 'ugly' things in the world, but we do what we can to make sure our kids stay 'kids' as long as they can. I'm no expert, but I do have a few ideas as to how we can do this.

While there are very few shows out there that don't show any potentially-objectional content, some shows are 'cleaner' than others. I'm not talking about violence so much as innuendo and bad language because networks are a little better about airing programs that feature violence (Law and Order: SVU, Fox's The Following, Revolution, etc) at an hour children are likely to be in bed. Regardless of when they are shown, most network programs have an 'advisory' in the beginning-'Viewer discretion advised', along with one of these labels- You can't, however, rely on a network to do this because a) they're in the business of getting viewers and making money, and b) they don't know what you consider to be violent/sexual/etc. It might help you to watch an episode of a particular show without your kids so you can determine whether or not a program is age-appropriate.

Parental guidance can be a perfect opportunity to teach your children the values you want them to have as adults. Things like,I don't ever want to hear you talk to someone like that” could be said when talking about bad language or rudeness. Things like, “That should really be reserved for someone you love/marriage/etc” could be said when talking about sex. You could be character-specific-”See? That's what smoking pot can do to you-make you stupid.” “Look at that God, she's annoying”, or more general. My parents used to say, 'You know that's not real, right?' Your kids are probably already aware of 'real vs. pretend' but sometimes that distinction can be blurred when a scene is particularly blatant.

Here are a few other things you can do:
Read reviews. Groups such as the Parents' Television Council have websites that can give you an idea as to the content and 'appropriateness' of a program.

Talk to other parents. If your child spends a lot of time over at a friend's house, talk to the friend's parents to see what sort of guidelines they use.

Watch with your children. If you can't for whatever reason, have an older sibling do it. My parents used to have me watch Beavis and Butthead with my nephew when he lived with us. They didn't want him to watch it at all, but they let him because they knew I would do the 'don't do that, they're idiots' thing I mentioned above.

More than anything else, know your child. Some children are more 'tender' than others about things like violence. Some kids are more 'impressionable' when it comes to imitating behavior they see on TV. Age aside, this can help you judge whether you want your child to watch a program, or in whose company.

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