Well, that’s a question without standard answers!! It’s very difficult to decide how much is enough, when it comes to TV watching. It varies from child to child, parent to parent, situation to situation. But then there should be some guideline to help us decide when to tell the child that ‘tube-time’s up for today!’
Here are a few things we can consider to come to conclusion in a particular child. May be its too much of TV watching when:
- The child watches TV more than he plays actively (if he watches TV for 1 hour in a day, he should be getting 4 hours of play. If he takes big siestas or goes to day-care and doesn’t play for 4 hours, then cut down his TV hours too)
- The child uses your TV sofa equally or more than you do (if you watch a lot of TV you cannot expect your child not to. So to show him the time-limits, you need to cut down your TV hours too)
- The child starts seeing the characters in his nightmares/ sleep-talks about these characters ( many cartoon programs are full of unpleasant situations and affect children's psyche deeply. so if 1 hour of TV watching is giving these nightmares, encourage him to watch something else and that too for shorter duration)
- The child gets a little cranky after TV watching (watching TV causes headaches, restlessness in kids. the moment your kid shows signs of irritability/ restlessness, switch off the tube and divert his mind to another activity. make a note of the time spent in front of TV and next time divert him to another activity before the threshold is crossed).
- The eyes look red or watery (small kids cannot tell if their vision is getting hazy. keep an eye on the first sign of vision trouble. if 1 hour of TV watching is giving your child watery and red eyes, TV watching needs to be cut down further).
- The TV characters have an impact on the way your child behaves (kids form their ego-ideals from TV shows too and start getting influenced by the characters. If the influence is so big that it affects the way your child speaks or walks, or if it affects your child’s choices heavily or if it induces fears in his mind, then you need to cut down that show qualitatively as well as quantitatively.
- the child cannot do something else during his TV time (if you find it difficult to get him off-TV for an outing during his scheduled TV time, then you know he is heading towards TV-habits)
TV watching hours is different for different children, at different age. But if we try to come down to a fixed number of hours, it shouldn’t be more than 1 hour on any given day. this too needs to be cut down further if there are any symptoms from the above mentioned list.
it's 'addiction' if the child is unable to follow through.