A child watching a tv show
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A child watching a tv show

Selecting Television Programs for Young Children

It is unrealistic for most parents to get rid of their television sets. Limiting television time is difficult. How do you decide what's OK and what's not OK to watch?

Here is a checklist for evaluating and selecting television programs for children. "Yes" answers suggest that the program is more appropriate for children.

  1. Is the program appropriate for the child's age and level of development? Does it appeal to his age group? Can he readily understand and interpret the language and images of the program?
  2. Does it stimulate constructive activities like reading, learning, hobbies or creative play, instead of leaving the viewer passive, requiring no intellectual or emotional response?
  3. Does the program make clear the difference between reality and fantasy? Does it help young children distinguish what's real and what's make-believe?
  4. Does the program present positive images of racial and ethnic groups?
  5. Does it present gender roles and adult roles in a non-sexist and positive manner?
  6. Does the program present positive images of children and adults who are differently abled?
  7. Does the program encourage values, ideals and beliefs you consider worthwhile?
  8. Does the program present humor at a level that children can understand?
  9. Does it present conflicts a child can understand and show positive problem-solving techniques?
  10. Does the program separate commercials from content? Is the program commercial-free?
  11. Does the program provide accurate information at a level a child can comprehend?
  12. Does the program portray violence to make a valid ethical point in relation to the story? Are the consequences of violence shown: grief, pain, fear, jail, death, etc.?
  13. Does the program present "the bad guy (or gal)" in a way that doesn't confuse young children, instead of giving the villain a likeable and sympathetic personality?

Source: Marilyn Droz, Committee for Children's Television. Parent Pages was developed by Cornell Cooperative Extension of Suffolk County. HD 51


Anna Steinkraus
Family & Community Development Program Coordinator
(607) 272-2292 ext. 145

Last updated August 8, 2015