Children, teenagers and adults can learn a lot from TV. It is a source not only of diversion, entertainment and adventure, but also of information and knowledge. When should I let my children watch TV? How much TV should they watch? These are legitimate questions that most parents ask themselves at some point. Small children do not belong in front of the TV, even if there are plenty of programmes targeting a very young audience. Don’t misuse the TV as a babysitter!
Parents need to make their own rules, but here are some basic principles that can provide guidance:
- 3 to 5 year olds: not more than half an hour a day
- 6 to 9 year olds: an hour a day at the most
- 10 to 13 year olds: not more than 90 minutes in front of the TV.
It is up to parents to decide how long their children get to watch TV. As they grow older, kids will want to participate in the selection of programmes, or even choose all on their own. Older children may want to watch programmes that their parents don’t approve of. Read up on the contents of the programme in advance, and maybe even watch it together with your children. Of course, you always have the option of letting the kids grow up with no TV at all.
A teenager is sitting in front of a big, grey computer, eyes fixed on the screen, shooting away at airplanes. Such are the images that draw parents’ attention to the problem of computer addiction. Affected children or teenagers no longer hang out with their friends. They show no interest in sports and outdoor activities. Instead, they spend most of their free time on the computer.
Some parents can’t wait to get their kids started on the computer. They believe that educational software, tailor-made for babies and small children, is the best way to prepare their offspring for a society based on performance and competition. Experts disagree about the best time to introduce computers into a child’s life. Parental concern that a child will become addicted as soon as it encounters this new technology is understandable, but unfounded. Despite the temptations of computers and new media, most children lead active lives and interact with friends in the real world and not just virtually. The parents’ main job is to set a good example of responsible and appropriate media use.
Clear rules for surfing and chatting online
Apart from harmful websites, unsecured chat rooms and social media accounts ( such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat) pose the greatest threat to young people on the Web. It is almost impossible for parents to monitor content and behaviours in chat rooms, so wait as long as possible before allowing your child to have a computer in his or her own bedroom or to have a smartphone. It’s better to have a family computer with separate user accounts and a time plan. That way, you will have clear rules and time schedules for using the Internet.
If you have no experience with these things, ask your child to show you how to «chat» and have a go at it yourself! If your child accepts you as one of their contacts, you’ll be able to see when your child is online! It also makes sense to use the (mostly) preinstalled Kid mode (parental control) on tablets, smartphones, laptops and computers. If the system does not offer this service, it makes sense to download a simple parental-control software.
Talk to your children about which online activities are fun and safe, and which things may be dangerous. Talk to them in general about available content on the Web, because the time will come when they encounter harmful content (violence, racism, pornography, etc.), so they should be made aware of these things. Why not establish a list together with your child of websites that are safe to visit?
Addresses and links _____ * = Services explicitly offered also in other languages than German.
* = Services explicitly offered also in other languages than German.