Advice Column, Child, Parenting

PG 13

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It’s a busy, busy world. There is too much to do and not enough time to do half of it. It’s getting harder and harder to monitor exactly what our children are filling their time with. Some of it is harmless enough, but a great deal of what’s airing on TV these days is, for lack of a better word, poisonous.

Let’s begin with how much television or game time your child is allowed each day. The best thing to do is minimise this time and supplement it with outdoor activity. Allow between one and two hours of TV a day, and not longer than that in one sitting period. Do not allow television during meal times, or right before lights out. Try reading a story instead, and give their minds imagery that requires imagination rather than that which could disturb their precious minds.

Next, monitor what they are watching and playing therein. Before you buy a DVD, watch it. Play a game before you give it to your child. There is a very good reason that the Film and Publications Board gives ratings to movies – because some can be extremely harmful to young, imaginative minds that are not used to the violence that we adults have sadly become desensitised, even accustomed to. Wrestling shows are not appropriate for young boys because their playfulness and desire to imitate can often turn into tears on the playground. Blood, gore and foul language also have no place in the lives of children when it comes to entertainment. When it comes to super heroes and fantastic myth, explain to your children that they are fantasy and not reality, and can therefore not be imitated without painful consequences.

Video games are a big consideration people need to keep when dealing with monitoring their child’s activities, as these affect some very fundamental parts of your child’s mind. Because game simulation is becoming more and more lifelike, children are finding themselves rapt with these fast-paced and aggressive worlds they go into. As a result, the lines between fantasy and reality begin to blur and violence and aggression, as well as addiction, begins to grow. This is not to say do not allow your children enjoy the thrill of entertainment, it simply means think twice before allowing your 7 year old to steal cars in Grand Theft auto or attempt to save the world from aliens that rip intestines out (it’s true, a lot of the games these days feature such graphics) and because we don’t monitor what they are, we are left unaware of the threats they pose to our children’s mental well-being.

Make sure you know what entertainment your child fills his or her time with, and decide whether you deem them healthy or age-appropriate. Trust your instincts here – if you don’t like it, chances are it’s not healthy.

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