Teenage is the developing years of your child and the actions taken at this time is sure to affect their entire life. Surprisingly, the current statistics available tells us that the teenagers spend the most of their active times in front of a TV set. Does this ring a bell? If it does, you are not alone. Most parents face this problem.

Any other activity would burn up more calorie than TV viewing. Therefore, TV is also a big foot forward towards obesity. Parents have reasons to be concerned.

However, TV is a really important source of knowledge for children. During the teen years, there are a lot of important things that they learn and imitate from TV. Teenagers, on an average, watch around 15,000 hours of TV in their entire school time. All this can really affect the way they think and the way they behave with their family and friends.

Television is a medium that airs both good and bad influences and therefore the role of the parents become crucial to monitor and guide the child toward such programs that are constructive. Other than this the other element that is necessary for good TV habit is to have a restricted TV viewing hours.

How to help teenagers develop good TV habits

It is necessary to develop TV habits that are healthy and beneficial, but the question is, how can this be achieved? They should be guided by the governing figures in their life.

  1. Through parents: Teenagers do spend a lot of time at home and from a young age, they would have been affected by what their parents have been doing. As a result of this, it is essential for parents to step into the right shoes and make sure that they regulate the TV watching hours and teach the same to children.
  2. Through teachers: You know that children spend some 15000 hours watching TV in their school life. They spend considerably lesser time (11,000 hours) in school, but that is still a lot of time. This is the place where they learn and interact with other children the most. This will have a huge bearing on the child's life and this is certainly the place where children can learn a lot about developing teen TV habits. If this enforcement happens in school, teens will also be able to establish some sort of connection between TV and their intellectual or educational life.

Now that we know the two most important figures that can help influence the teens to develop good TV habits, here are a few methods through which they can be helped in a positive way.

  1. Preview the movies and TV shows they watch: This does not mean that you turn into a censor board, trying to develop good TV habits among teens. It is time to realize that it is not possible for you to prevent your children from watching things that you might deem inappropriate or adult for them. Hence, the best you can do is to make sure that you know what they are watching. If you know that they are watching shows with a slight adult content, you need to be aware of it, so that you can be prepared for any questions they might have.
  2. Watch as much TV with them as you can: This applies for teachers and parents. Parents, you could have some family time and watch some TV together. Make sure that the channel and the show you're watching is complementary to both the ages, so as to not make it boring or awkward for either. By being capable of picking a show, you can even pick a show that you think your teenager should be watching in order to develop good TV habits.
    Teachers, it is vital for you to watch some amount of TV in school. If you are dealing with some particular item in the curriculum and there are any shows that also discuss about the same issue, you can show that to the class. This way, they will have fun while connecting to something they learn in school to the real life.
  3. Handle TV time: One of the biggest TV habit problems of the teens is the fact that they can end up watching a lot of TV, which is harmful in many ways. It can cut into the time they set aside for a lot of other activities and this is really harmful. So, make sure that you give them enough time to catch up on their favourite shows, but don't let them spend a lot of time on the television.
  4. Use parental control: At the early teenage years, if you are not really sure about the TV habits of teens and you wish to make sure that your teen is developing good TV habits, then you have to make sure that you employ some parental control measures. Most TVs come with them now. There are filters that you can establish in order to monitor what your teenager watches at home on television, including the parent filter which would block the channels or the shows that you don't want your children to watch.
  5. Keep a track of popular shows: If something is popular on television, teenagers are certainly going to be eager to watch that. When you are trying to find the TV habits of teens and trying to make them better, you have to make sure that you know what the popular TV shows are and what are not. This way, you will know about the shows that the teens would wish to watch and you can find out if it is okay for you to let them watch it.
  6. Try educating them: Of course, at some point of time or the other, parents and teachers have to realize that the TV habits of teens cannot be altered beyond a point. You can put controls or talk to them, but no matter how much you try, if they are intent on watching some shows, you might not be able to stop them. Hence, you need to find some middle ground and start educating your teens about things that they might see on TV.
    The things that teens see on TV can be harmful or affect them in a negative way only if they don't know how to take it. If you can train them and educate them about the various issues in the shows they watch, they will be more knowledgeable about the same. This will certainly help good TV habits among teens.
  7. Assign TV watching projects: The TV can be really educating, no matter how evil the parents or the teachers might feel it to be. Most of the things being shown on TV are linked to reality and hence, it would be better for parents and teachers to prepare good TV habits among teens that would help them face this reality as well. One of the ways in which the educating nature of television can be harnessed is through assignments. Teachers can assign some regular TV watching of particular shows in order to promote healthy habits among children, thereby introducing a variety of new teaching methods among the students as well.
  8. Talk to them about their favourite programs: Teenage years are quite fragile and one needs to handle the teens with right amount of care and control. Since it is necessary for parents to promote some amount of individual sense and provide the teens with some liberty, you might have to just let them choose the shows they want to watch. But, you can keep a track of what these shows are. From time to time, the parents and teachers might even try talking about these programs, what they stand for and what the teenager gets out of these shows. This does not only encourage good teen TV habits, it also makes the adults more aware of their own opinions. This way, they will also be able to comfortably open up to elders about their opinions and become more vocal about the same as well.
  9. Be wary of them emulating what they see: Some teenagers try to match what they see on TV, so they might try behaving like their favourite character or characters, be it activities or mannerisms. Keep a close look on this and make sure that you put a clamp on it if the behaviour is not favourable.

What to be careful of:

Since you are dealing with teenagers, it is not going to be really easy. Teen TV habits will vary from teen to teen and while teachers and parents can assist, they can't really do much to completely change them, for this will just antagonize them in the eyes of the teen. There are a few things that parents and teachers and everybody who is trying to alter or control TV habits of teens should be wary of:

  1. Don't be a control freak: Don't try controlling everything they watch, they will just rebel and find another way to do it.
  2. Be liberal: This is the next generation you are talking about and the amount of exposure required for the world is growing, so don't stop your teen from watching shows because of your somewhat conventional ideology.
  3. Give them space: While it is okay for you to voice out your concern about the teen watching some shows, give them some space to choose the shows they want to watch. It makes no sense for you to ban them from watching shows that you don't like.

So, while some control is necessary, especially when it comes to the timing and when it comes to teenagers in their earlier levels, it is necessary for some amount of individuality to be promoted as well.