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The idiot box syndrome

Television has eaten into most of our personal time. But you can still reconnect with the children, writes Dr Rita Kalra.

sex and relationships Updated: Jun 07, 2008 18:23 IST
television

One of the most time-consuming activities in the life of young children these days is neither school nor family interaction, instead, it's watching TV. No doubt TV can be an educational medium, depending on what kids watch, but most television programmes these days border on terrible.

Some people ask, wouldn't it be better to get rid of our TV sets until after our children have grown up? But TV with its unparalleled capacity, has occasionally demonstrated the potential it carries. So, don't smash the set in despair. Learn to control it, instead of becoming its slave.

Conversation killer TV is an enemy of conversation within the family.A child once reprimanded the television technician as he came two days later than he was supposed to, for repairing the set. "Uncle," said the child, "why did you come late, we had to talk to each other to pass our time." Really, how can we talk to each other when a multi-crore production in living colour is always beckoning out attention?

Another factor of concern is the current fashion, whereby programme directors are compelled to go a little further, use a little more profanity, discuss the undiscussable, assault the concept of good taste and decency In doing do, they are hacking away at the foundations of the family.

There are three objectives to be followed when TV comes between you and your child - to monitor the quality of the programmes being watched; to regulate the quantity of television they see; and to include the entire family in establishing a television policy, if possible.

Here is a system that is very effective in accomplishing all three of these purposes. Step 1: Parents should sit down with the children and select a list of approved programmes that are appropriate for each age level.

Step 2: Cut pieces of paper about the size of a normal movie ticket. Issue each child 10 tickets per week, and let him use them to "buy" the privilege of watching the programmes on the approved list. When his tickets are gone, his television viewing is over for that week. This teaches him to choose what he most wants to spend his time on.

This system can be modified to fit individual home situations. You might also give extra tickets as rewards for achievement or some other praiseworthy behaviour.