You asked

My 4-year-old son constantly ask me can he watch television. How do I manage TV time for him?

Bad television habits are formed early on in childhood. Children over the age of 24 months start having favourite TV shows or movies and will very often want to re-watch them. By the age of four, the lure of television is even stronger and this can have a variety of negative influences. Because watching television is very passive, your child will not develop language and social skills. Children who watch a lot of TV tend to be more obese. This is due to the lack of physical activity and the advertisements during children's programs that focus on sugary, fatty or salty food products.

You should set strict times for watching television. Limit TV time to no more than two hours per day. Monitor what content your child watches. If your child chooses to watch a DVD, then once the movie is over, switch the DVD player off. Children under the age of eight years cannot tell the difference between reality and fact on a television show and in adverts. Soap operas and series can expose your child to all sorts of bad influences, such as alcohol and drug abuse, violence, profanity and so on. Always sit with your child when anything is on the television that is not geared towards children. Even a 'bad' show can be used as a teaching tool, if you engage in conversation and explain why the things being depicted are wrong.

If you are uncertain about a program or movie's appropriateness for your preschooler, consider how scary or provocative it might appear to you at that age. Even movies like Snow White and The Lion King can cause anxiety or fear. Always reassure your child that he is safe while you are with him and do your best to explain the difference between fantasy and reality on the television.

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The television is a powerful tool for your four-year-old: it can be used for instant entertainment, education, and more negatively, as a substitute for interaction with friends, parents and the outside world.
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