Nowadays, many children are lucky enough to have their own playroom in the family home. Putting a TV in these rooms makes sense, not just for entertainment or for when they have friends round, but because a lot of children’s programming is educational and, in this respect, TV can become an integral part of their education.
Older children will often pressurise parents for a TV for their bedrooms. Whether this is a good idea or not is up to the parents. However, if you are planning on buying a telly for the kids, here are a few things to look out for.
Firstly, a TV for the kids doesn’t have to be costly. Children aren’t bothered as much by screen size or features, as by what’s playing on the box. Safety is a priority though. In a home with children, all TVs should be wall-mounted or securely anchored to furniture or fittings and you should factor this into your budget accordingly.
Statistics show that many children are hurt each year falling CRT TVs. For that reason, it is worth paying for an LCD TV or plasma, as these are lighter and can be much safer, if installed correctly. Make sure electrically leads are kept hidden from little feet and curious hands.
Of course, when it comes to TVs, manufacturers are already building TVs that appeal to children. Hannspree, for example, has already produced several ranges of TVs specifically aimed at kids, such as their range of TVs shaped like zoo animals.
These are all designed to be child-friendly, but younger children will still need help with the controls.
Children love DVDs and will often watch their favourites over and over, so it’s an idea to go for a TV with a built-in DVD player, such as Disney’s 13 inch ‘Princess’ TVs. It’s best to keep VCRs out of the range of smaller children as they can often try to force objects into the players.
Children love games too, so consider a gaming console as an add-on. There are many educational game titles on the market now.
For an older child, it is worth considering a laptop or desktop computer with an integrated TV card, as this can double up as a TV and computer for homework.
Too much TV or the wrong type of programming isn’t good for a developing child. Fortunately, most LCD TVs come with parental controls, so take the time to learn how the feature works and use it.
There are many ways of limiting viewing time. One way, for example, is to use the sleep function, so that the TV turns off after a specified period. Alternatively, in bedrooms, install the TV inside a locked cupboard that can only be opened by a parent.
It’s a good idea too to plan a viewing schedule at the start of the week and stick to it. That way they still get to see their favourite programmes.
However, the best way to control how much TV your kids watch is to make sure they have plenty of other healthier activities, such as sports to participate in. TV is a great form of entertainment and education for growing children, but only as part of a more balanced lifestyle.