Go for ‘Diet’ TV

Words: Dr Rajgopal NIDAMBOOR

We all know that TV, the eternal baby-sitter, or surrogate mother, is magic potion.

Yet, there’s also a huge dark side to TV.

TV has not only battered our values, it has also marginalised old-fashioned conversations, at home, and outside of it, including good habits like reading, or watching a stage-play. Our families today have not only retreated into a shell to watch separate programmes; they have also gone into voluntary isolation, a cultural apartheid. Put simply, TV has chomped up so much of our time. It has, in so doing, left a whole generation bleary-eyed and impatient. Yet, not many people grumble, or protest.

It’s a monumental treasure trove of programmes on TV, all right, given the total volume of ‘pro-gaming,’ and sitting in front of its electronic ‘fireside.’

It’s also a paradox, no less.

There is substantial evidence to support the idea that TV viewing can connect our children to society. It can, as studies suggest, also promote aggressiveness and obesity, at the same time.

So, the big question: what to do? Answer: regulate your kids’ TV viewing. 

It isn’t as cool as it sounds, but you need not be a mind scientist, or psychologist, to discover your child’s personal learning style, or interests. The best way to doing this is by giving your child an opportunity to learn what they do best and slowly ‘wean’ them away from too much of TV viewing. Easier said than done, perhaps.

Look at this. TV viewing in excess is harmful for your kids. On the other hand, TV viewing may also be beneficial.

Pros & Cons

The advantage is — TV and computer/video games connect children to the community. To deprive your child of access, to what other children are engaged in, puts them at a disadvantage when they go to school, or play with friends. Or, hear them discussing TV shows, or computer games, they have never seen.

So, what is the remedy, nay solution?

Most psychologists suggest that you limit rather than eliminate your children’s TV watching and video game play. One hour a day during the school week, and not more than two hours on weekends, would be a reasonable goal to achieve for your child’s TV watching, or viewing. In addition, you should, they suggest, eliminate violent programmes from your child’s TV ‘diet’ and computer/video game schedules to the best extent possible.

If you want to watch, or your child wants to do likewise, sit with them and watch it together. Also, try to explain your feelings, while listening to your child’s reasons for preferring this type of programme.

Besides this, you would do well to find out what interests your child, and, thereafter, promote a strong physical programme, such as sports, aimed at fulfilling your child’s dislikes and likings.

It’s ideal too to provide your child an opportunity to learn what they do best. You could, with effect, use good background music to focus and calm — if your child is ‘hypersensitive.’ But, remember: the music you use should be soft and soothing. Not something that is too noisy, or too loud.

Also, don’t you forget to remove allergens from your child’s food, or diet. Because, what may be ‘eating,’ or affecting, your child could be what your child is eating.

View-TV Management

  • Enhance your child’s self-esteem
  • Find your child’s best times of alertness
  • Provide a variety of stimulating learning activities — like reading, drawing, and painting
  • Teach your child positive aspirations
  • Provide positive role models
  • Provide hands-on activities
  • Help your child with organisational skills.

Also, include the following —

  • Help your child to appreciate the value of personal effort
  • Teach your child focusing techniques: simple breathing exercises and meditation
  • Give your child good, real choices; and, also establish consistent rules, routines, and transitions
  • Hold family meetings
  • Hold a positive image of your child
  • Most importantly, always give rewards after your child has finished doing a good job. Never before.

Now, the most important thing. If only you could achieve this ‘balance,’ half of the battle is won. For your good, and your child’s good. This will, in due course of time, also become a channel for promoting good behaviour and useful skills rather than pills.

As Wolfgang von Goethe, the great German poet, playwright, novelist, scientist, and statesman, said, “Treat people as if they were what they ought to be, and you will help them to become what they are capable of being.” This venerable aphorism applies equally well to your kids, their sensitivities, sensibilities, and also their TV viewing.

Dr RAJGOPAL NIDAMBOOR, PhD, is a wellness physician-writer-editor, independent researcher, critic, columnist, author and publisher. His published work includes hundreds of newspaper, magazine, web articles, essays, meditations, columns, and critiques on a host of subjects, eight books on natural health, two coffee table tomes and an encyclopaedic treatise on Indian philosophy. He is Chief Wellness Officer, Docco360 — a mobile health application/platform connecting patients with Ayurveda, homeopathic and Unani physicians, and nutrition therapists, among others, from the comfort of their home — and, Editor-in-Chief, ThinkWellness360.

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