Gifted students watch more TV than ordinary kids - but their choices are different

Researching my previous post, I stumbled onto this interesting September 1999 Today’s Parent article advising parents to watch TV with their kids, set limits on what their kids watch, and — most importantly — teach their children to evaluate shows' content and choose shows thoughtfully:

When Harvard’s Caroline Snow did a study of factors affecting reading among children in Massachusetts, she found that the active choice of programs was more important in developing kids who read than simply limiting the hours spent looking at the tube. Gifted students actually watch more TV than ordinary kids – but their choices are different.

Kealy Wilkinson, national director of the Alliance for Children and Television (ACT) in Toronto, agrees. “Development of critical viewing skills is one of the most important things we can give to children. This starts early, at the toddler level, helping children to choose shows and then talk about what they see. Your television set really is a window on the world, not just background noise. With TV, you get to choose the view out that window.”

Bonnie and George Holliday, who live outside the small town of Mount Forest, Ontario, have helped their children learn to choose programs since they were infants. Even now that her kids are 12 and 16, Bonnie says, “I still go through the TV guide with the kids to help them choose programs. …There are limits… But if you’re watching with the kids, then you can talk about the language that’s used, or the violence, or whether or not a situation on TV is real. And we have turned off programs when we feel they’re inappropriate.”

…ACT’s Wilkinson says that she, too, has put some limits on what programs her kids can watch, but she feels that prohibition doesn’t work nearly as well as discussion. “There is a place for parents to say, ‘You can’t watch that show,’ but where and how you draw the line is important. It’s usually not as useful to say, ‘No you can’t’ as it is to say, ‘Let’s watch this show together.’”

Posted by James on Wednesday, August 04, 2010