Become familiar with TV ratings
Since you can’t personally scan each television program before letting your kids watch it, a good rule of thumb is to begin your assessment by following the TV Ratings that are supplied with each program. There are now currently seven separate ratings for TV programs, which can really help for a quick decision.
- TV Y: All Children
- TV Y7: Directed to Older Children
- TV Y7 FV: Directed to Older Children/Fantasy/Violence
- TV G: General Audience
- TV PG: Parental Guidance Suggested
- TV 14: Parents Strongly Cautioned
- TV MA: Mature Audience Only
While many parents spend endless hours on monitoring how much and what their children watch, sometimes it is best to take a look inward first. For example, how many TVs are there in the house? More than one? Is the TV at the center of the furniture setup? Do you turn the TV on as background noise when you walk into the house? Are the children at home or still up when you watch programming only suitable for adults? Remember that you set the standards for TV habits that your children mimic. Creating healthy TV habits can in turn be an automatic parental control on when and how much TV your children watch.
Lock-in parental controls
Once you have an idea of what types of programming and channels are okay for your kids to watch, you can begin setting the preferences on your TV. While every TV is different, the instructions on how to set the preferences can be found in the manual or just by googling your brand and model TV. Most times you can lock in preferences according to the seven TV ratings, by movie or episode title or simply by picking which channels can be accessed. Once your preferences are set, each time the TV turns on you will need to punch in a pin code to choose either the kids profile and preferences, or your own.
Make new rules
Sometimes the best time to change old habits and make new rules is when you move. There is something about being in a fresh space that loosens the mind on old habits. Get creative! If you are moving into a smaller place, maybe it’s time to rearrange your living room and not center it around a big flat screen TV. Or if you are moving into a large luxury building like 70 Vestry in New York City, use some of the space for TV-free zones. With extra room to spare, you can easily turn an entire room into a game room for family games and movie nights, stressing TV as a bonus entertainment tool for the weekends.