Lets Talk About It

Let’s get ready for school, part 1

It’s time to get ready for school. Between next week and September 5, most, if not all, primary to high school students will be returning to school. Some students are eagerly looking forward to the new school year. Others do not want the fun-filled summertime with no routine studying to end. But it must end and parents must begin to get their children prepared for active learning.

To have a productive school year, there are a few things parents are to do to ensure that their children are putting their best foot forward. In this article, I will share one topic that I believe is most crucial for intellectual development and academic success. That is the management of television viewing. You may call this a pet peeve of mine because it really disturbs me how so many parents lack the knowledge of the impact of indiscriminate television viewing by growing children. Note that, today, a high percentage of children are viewing videos/movies and games on handheld devices. Hence, here are a few tips to help parents be wiser about television/video viewing, whether it is by using a smartphone, tablet, or iPad:

PRINCIPLE ONE: Do not let your children (kindergarten to grade 12) watch television/videos during the school week (Mondays – Thursdays). Let them focus on schoolwork and play. Neither should the parents sit and watch television in the presence of the children and expect the children to be disinterested. Remember that children learn best by example during these early years. My preliminary findings on the effects of television on the development of children indicate that the less television watched by children, the better their social and academic performance. (Council for Family Research). Generally, children who do not watch television between Mondays and Thursdays are less aggressive, more sociable and cooperative in school. 

Okay, let’s be fair. Some are saying that there are a few students who are disciplined enough to wisely choose time and programs to watch that may not impact them academically. While that is true, parents are to provide guidance to prevent poor time management, late-night watching and binge watching. Television views should never replace time for rest, play and study. I mention playing because for growing young children, playing with friends or siblings in the house or outdoors is not only socially beneficial but also academically stimulating. The television robs them of that.

PRINCIPLE TWO:  Whenever television watching is permitted, parents should preselect television programs that are uplifting for the children. Soap operas, violent pictures, pictures containing vulgar language or scenes, rude comedies, etc., should not be seen by our children. These programs will stifle proper moral and social development.

PRINCIPLE THREE: At no time should a parent allow a child to sit and watch television for indefinite periods. One hour of television viewing for children less than 10 years of age provides a heavy dosage of information to process. Secondly, the danger of your child developing an unreal view of the world and his or her surroundings is seriously increased. During holiday times, our children spend too much time watching television. Even teenagers and adults should not develop the habit of watching more than two to three hours of television without taking a significant break. Parents should decide that the television will be on only for specific hours at a time and only at certain times of the day. Again, it is better for your child to learn how to entertain him or herself than to be entertained. 

Parents, please note that television/video watching for growing children makes the development of reading skills more difficult. It cripples the ability of the mind to develop original imagination and thought.

PRINCIPLE 4: Do not have a television, iPad or smartphone in your child’s room. If these devices are in the child’s bedroom, the parents have little or no control over the management of the time they watch it.  Most children will be up watching while the parents are asleep. Make television viewing family time. Too many televisions in the home rob the family of valuable togetherness. It also creates a problem for proper management time and programming of the television.

Here is what pediatrician, Dr. Kevin Nelson, in his 2019 article, titled, “TV May Be Causing Your Preschooler’s Sleep Problems” states: “Most recent studies that include all screen-based media (like tablets and smartphones) have also found bedtime screen viewing leads to more sleep problems for kids of all ages. Not only do these kids get less sleep, they score lower on quality of life assessments. Since about 2/3 of adolescents self-report having access to screens at bedtime, this is a big potential problem. And if that viewing takes place in a dark room, the problems intensify.”

Thus, parents, do not train your child to fall asleep with the television on or having their smartphone or tablets in the bed. This helps to create undisciplined behavior in the child and, as stated earlier, poor sleep habits and academic development. Allowing video devices in your child’s room also makes it easier for children to watch violent or sexual shows without your supervision. Then, you have the audacity to punish them for being so “stupid” while they were to be under your supervision.

Parents, be wise. Next week, I will share part two on “Let’s get ready for school”.

• Barrington Brennen is a marriage and family therapist.  Send your questions or comments to P.O. Box CB-11045 or email question@soencouragement.org or call 242-477 4002 or visit www.soencouragement.org.

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