Seven Tips for TV Viewing in the Home

Helping children become "Media Literate"

  1. Establish limits on how much TV your family watches. Decide the number of hours to watch and stick to it!

  2. Plan your viewing. Encourage a family attitude that television should be turned on only to watch a specific show, not just to "see what's on." Choose your shows ahead of time, using a weekly television program guide.

  3. Develop family guidelines for selecting programs. Be sure to discuss values you believe are important and the reasons for your choices. Check channel listings, including cable, and note reviews of programs with themes and subjects that match your family guidelines. Look for shows and videos that offer different viewpoints and help in your child's education.

  4. Make TV watching an interactive family event. Television doesn't have to end family discussion and interaction. Watch it together, and use every opportunity to talk about what you are seeing and hearing. Use storylines or characters to stimulate conversation on topics that can be difficult to discuss: family relationships, feelings, appropriate sexual behavior, divorce or death. Try "thinking out loud" as a non-threatening way to let your children hear your values and prompt their response.

  5. Talk back to your TV. When appropriate, express your opinions by "talking" directly to the TV as you watch. Respond to sexism, racism and unnecessary violence, but point out positive portrayals as well. Don't forget to challenge commercials and the way they try to sell us not only products but attitudes and lifestyles.

  6. Let TV expand and enlarge your world. Find related books and magazines at your public library and go on family outings based on ideas you've seen on TV. Keep an atlas or globe next to the set and find places mentioned in the news.

  7. Be positive about TV's contribution to our world. Television is the dominant force in our media culture and an important part of children's lives. It should be evaluated fairly, not denigrated.

CML logoFind out more about the Center for Media Literacy

Reprinted, with permission, from The Center for Media Literacy, 4727 Wilshire Boulevard, Suite 403, Los Angeles, California 90010 ; 800-226-9494 or 213-933-4147; Fax: 1-213-559-4417. The Center is a clearinghouse for media literacy information, books and videos, and publishes the quarterly Connect newsletter, media literary workshop kits and multi-media programs.

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©1997 OnVideo and OnVideo. All rights reserved
October 25, 1997