How Exposed is Your Teen: Tips to Monitoring Your Teen’s TV Time

Did you know that educational researchers found that the average teenager watches about 32 hours of television in a week? With more parents having to work multiple jobs and handle other responsibilities, teens and in some cases younger children are left at home to entertain themselves. When we were young, our idea of entertainment was playing a board game or going over a friend’s house. Today’s children however, have a different form of entertainment – television. If we as parents are not careful in monitoring our teen’s TV time we could be exposing them to many of life’s lessons before they’re ready to comprehend them.

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Television and Teen Interpretation

When your child was younger, plopping them in front of a show like Mickey Mouse Clubhouse while you prepare a snack was nothing. The show was entertaining and educational all at the same time. However as your child has aged, their interests have changed immensely. So what used to be nothing more than a PBS,  Disney, or Nick Jr. show has now turned into prime time shows and movies. While your teen is likely old enough to decipher fiction from reality, they can often get caught up with interpretation.

Let’s say your teen might be interested in a show such as Teen Mom, while there are valuable lessons that can be learned from watching these young girls struggle with parenthood, teens might get caught up in the thrill of having a baby and starting their own family. As a parent it is your job to help them with interpretation and comprehension, while also monitoring the amount and type of television they watch.

Below you’ll find a few suggestions on how to accomplish this:

  1. Set Limits and Stick to it – The first thing you want to do with your teen is to sit down and discuss what the limitations are to watching television. Some things you might want to limit would include the amount of time they have each day to watch television and the types of shows they’re able to watch. Make sure that everyone has a clear understanding so that there are no excuses later on (as we know teens can be full of excuses)
  2. Set consequences – When rules or guidelines are established as it pertains to tv time you’re also going to need to have consequences in mind. While we would like to hope that our children would not be defiant, during the years of adolescence, you will often find that teenagers can get a bit sneaky. Therefore, you want to let them know upfront what will happen if they do not follow the limits you have set. This might include things like less tv time over the next period of time, no access to technology of any kind, or even not being able to hang with friends or participate in family activities that you have planned for a few days. This gives them a chance to think about their actions and do better in the future.wpid-ScreenShot2015-05-06at10.01.19PM-2015-05-6-21-53.png
  3. Set Parental Controls – As a third layer of protection for monitoring your teen’s tv time is to set up parental controls. Whether they watch television through cable subscription services, satellite television, or online, there are features that allow you to set up parental passcodes that are required to watch certain channels and certain rated shows. For example, you might not allow your teen to watch anything that is rated TV-14, or watch any form of show after 10pm.
  4. Watch Shows with or Before Them – If you know there are certain shows that your teen is interested in watching the best way to monitor it is to watch it with them – or before them. If your teen is the type that likes to isolate themselves they may not be willing to sit and watch a show with you. However, you can always watch the show ahead of time to determine if it is age appropriate.
  5. Create Open Dialogue – Yes, this one can be challenging seeing as how teenagers don’t really like to talk to their parents, however, this is another reason to watch shows with or before them. If they see that you’re current on the shows they love to watch they will be more willing to talk to you about episodes and certain events that took place. This allows you to see where your teen’s mindset is and address any issues upfront.
  6. Encourage Positive TV – There are some shows that your teenager will enjoy watching that are actually entertaining or beneficial without being over the top. For example, a parent of a teenage son who is into football should consider investing in television packages that include sports. Direct-Ticket.net, an authorized satellite television dealer, offers various Direct TV packages that include NFL programming from both on and off the field. This way, your teen can watch what he enjoys and will steer clear of shows that are not appropriate.

Well moms, I know I probably didn’t even scratch the surface of dealing with the ever evolving teenager and the various exposures there are out there, but television is a huge one and a great place to start. When we take the time to set limits, consequences, and parental controls we have three layers of protection to keep our teens from being exposed to realities too soon. When we can watch television together, have an open conversation, and support shows that are entertaining and positive, we create a safe environment for our teens to feel close and connected with us. Hopefully this helps you ladies get a better control on your teen’s tv time as it has helped me in the past.