Taking control of the remote

Last Updated 28 March 2014, 15:24 IST

Television is not a dark monster. It is not just a form of entertainment for children, but can also be a great source of education. Shubhadarshi Tripathy tells us how to set the TV rules at home.

Watching is aping; viewing is  becoming. Not entirely untrue, if one looks at the vast creed of home-alone adolescents brought up by working mothers or single parents. A great lot of time staying indoors with ‘Gosh I am so bored’ musings, in need of company, in want of something better, yet gaping mindlessly at that wide,              alluring LED screen gobbling up all  attention – a 24X7 juke-box, a den of       entertainment.

Entertainment, yes, that’s what television is meant to serve, in essence. And entertainment knows no rights, no wrongs. One ballistic action hero throwing off countless punches and giving it off, well, to a bunch of “bad fellows”; his mighty blows knocking off their teeth    depicts the sole call of justice that knows only to “even out the score” with the starkest possible revenge. May be, one eternal brave heart is seen dangerously hanging off the cliff to catch one bottle of softdrink to prove his “best of intentions” for his beloved, so on, and so forth. The so-called heroic instances are         myriad, running amuck on the screen, shaking those impressionable minds, quacking them, making them feel goose pimply all over!

Television, for all its good intent, can actually become a dubious company for your children. Explosions and bombs, lewd languages, aggression, violence, the list is endless. Often, the cheap and shoddy is hailed as entertainment and a whole lot of gory, inappropriate content is dished out, unequivocally.

The spunky, uppity generation is exposed to dramas that show abandoning all responsibilities in a brief moment of passion, or characters forever seen itching with lust for power and greed, are the norm. Heroes smoke cigars and drink bourbons, their ribald tongues often killing their enemies with words. So, are we not leaving a heavy carbon footprint in the bargain?

But television is not a dark monster. In fact, it is the best form of entertainment for most children. And moreover, it is not just entertaining but also educational. Television programs hold the key to opening up new arenas for children. These programs bring the world to your house and help children learn about the different cultures of the world. Kids are exposed to incredible ideas, which have the power of tapping their creativity and broadening their horizons. So, be careful to pick out the good from the bad of television viewing. Here are a few pointers:

n Keep the TV off during family times: Watching the television while having
dinner is not just a bad habit, but it also leads to less conversation between the family members. Having all the members of the family in the house at the same time does not happen every day, so whenever it does, like on weekends,
ensure that the conversation is flowing endlessly. Television instantly kills
conversations and dialogues in the house.

n Set limits on TV viewing: Hours after hours of watching television will turn
anybody’s brain to pudding! Set a time limit to the number of hours your child can watch the idiot box. You can increase this limit on weekends, but on weekdays, make sure the limit is between 1 to 2 hours.

n Plan what your child wants to watch: Random TV viewing can never end,
unless the cable goes off or the TV breaks down, or the apocalypse happens. Plan what you want your child to watch, and switch off the TV once the program is over.
n Set an example: Only preaching will not help your cause with children. You need to practice what you preach. Cut down on your and the tube’s special time. Watch less TV and watch your child         follow suit.

n Watch TV with your child: There are some programs that offer a wide variety of ideas and topics of discussion. Use these programs to help your child
understand the world around him/her. Encourage the kid to avoid stereotyping people and having an open mind about other’s cultures and customs.
n Do not keep a TV set in your child’s room: Having a personal TV is not a good idea for a child. The child will most probably stay up late, watching shows. This could lead to disrupted sleeping patterns. Also, since you can’t monitor the shows your child is watching, it’s even riskier.

n Stay away from misleading adverts: If you are watching TV, you also watch
advertisements. Most often than not, ads do not give correct information, bending the truth in their favour to sell more products. Sit with your child and
enlighten him/her to not believe everything that the ad says.

n Invest in good DVDs for children: Select what you want your child to watch, and buy it. There is a plethora of rich and       informative content available in the      market. These shows will aid your child to do better, not just in school, but in his personal life, too.

n Avoid using TV as a reward or punishment tool: Most parents take away the child’s TV time as a way of punishing them. And they also let them watch more TV as a reward. This might lead the child to glorify the television and attach too much value to it. You don’t want your child following a new religion where TV is the god!

n Limit eating while watching TV: Munching food while watching television is a sure-shot way to gain weight. Manage what your child eats when s/he spends time sitting in front of the TV.

(The writer is the channel head of ZeeQ)

(Published 28 March 2014, 15:24 IST)

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