For over twenty years, I developed technologies to help parents control their children’s media exposure. Parents and educators around the country are concerned over the amount of time children view technologies that are increasingly available in many homes (VCRs, cable, Internet, video games, cell phones, etc.). Part of this concern stems from the fact that a considerable amount of violence is regularly portrayed on media technologies. In addition, those youngsters who watch an excessive amount of media technologies have little time for developing other interests and hobbies.
The Problem of Viewing Media Technologies
Kids, TV, and the Electronic Media: Solutions From the Home Front
–Leonard A. Jason, Ph.D. and Libby Kennedy Hanaway
It used to be simpler. When today’s parents were kids, the media options were served from a limited plate: Kookla, Fran, and Ollie and My Three Sons, Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys books, occasional Saturday matinees, and maybe (if they’re pushing 50) a serialized radio show or two. For the most part, these amusements functioned as entertaining, yet manageable punctuation in the lives of children and youth. Fast forward to the late 1990’s, a time in which kids are constantly bombarded with glowing, flickering media options. Network, cable, and satellite television, web sites, chat rooms, MTV, WebTV, Sega Genesis, Nintendo, CD-ROMs, books, magazines, and e-mail constitute more than just punctuation in the lives of children today; they are a central substance and presence.
This explosion of electronic entertainment is not a necessarily negative development; indeed most of these innovations represent an amazing leap forward in the realms of entertainment, education, communication, and everyday fun. Yet for all the dazzling allure and promise of the electronic frontier, many parents, educators, researchers, and child advocates have legitimate reservations about their wholesale, wholehearted adoption on the part of American children and youth. Of the two chief concerns, one is a problem of content, the other a problem of time.
Content is the more obvious of the two issues. Take TV, for example. As any parent knows, putting a child in front of a television set has become an increasingly dicey move. The smattering of quality programs, some intended for children and families, some not, is routinely squeezed out by a roaring audio-visual parade of lame sex jokes, paranormal sleaze and slime, and tired, demeaning stereotyping. Televised violence is a topic of particular concern; there are about 20 violent acts each hour in children’s TV shows alone. According to the American Psychological Association, decades of psychological research have shown that violence on TV may make children less sensitive to the pain and suffering of others, more fearful of the world around them, and more likely to behave in aggressive and harmful ways toward others. In studies on related topics, children themselves have reported that TV makes them think that people are dishonest, selfish, and care more about money than other people. They also confess that TV encourages them to talk back to parents. Content problems plague other entertainment options as well. Video game manufacturers specialize in peddling testosterone-laced killing fields, while web site creators openly invite kids to view violent scenes of pornography.
In addition to issue of content, the field of electronic entertainment also presents the more subtle problem of time. American children spend an average of 4 hours of television a day, 28 hours per week watching TV; by age 18 they have watched 22,000 hours of TV–more time than they ever spent in the classroom. Add to these totals the time kids devote to ancillary electronic pursuits like video games and computer activities, and the result is a generation of media savvy, if not media weary kids.
In the same way kids adore sugar-coated cereal and late bedtimes, we should not be surprised that children devote so much time to the electronic media. But like other appealing but non-edifying aspects of childhood, excessive indulgence in electronic entertainment is unhealthy and in some cases outright dangerous. At risk for the TV-seasoned child is the failure to develop crucial social skills, the lack of meaningful family interaction, the sacrifice of reading time (which can affect cognitive development and academic achievement) and physical and imaginative play, and the faulty expectation that life should deliver easy, instant entertainment.
Most parents know that between the issues of content and time, a good situation is not at hand. Though television can be a temptingly handy baby-sitter, even the most beleaguered parent must admit that in excess or in age-inappropriate doses television and other electronic entertainment options create an unprofitable deal for their children. At the same time, though, many parents are experiencing an increasing sense of powerlessness, feeling abandoned in a sea of unsettling media messages. Especially in electronically advanced homes, complete with cable TV and the surging waves of the Internet, parents feel at a loss to control the tide of information and images rushing toward their children.
A parent’s natural reaction might be to push the whole load of blame on the media industry, the very source of the storm. And while the media industry does bear the burden of guilt in this debate, finger pointing alone will not improve the landscape for our children. To truly stem the tide and preserve the integrity of families, solutions are going to have to come from all quarters, parents included. Finger pointing is out, action is in.
The effect of corralling parents into the picture is not intended to give the electronic entertainment industry a way to quietly slip out the back gate of responsibility. The industry remains responsible for its content, and where reasonable it should chart an ethically correct course in delivering it. But woe to the deluded soul who believes it will graciously adopt this enlightened approach. Despite what we might hope or wish, as a business television and its related industries will do as much as it can to remain profitable, even at the expense of children. In the case of children’s relationships with electronic media, the ideal and the realistic are miles apart. And thanks to exploding technology, the gap will continue to grow, putting ever more kids at risk. Fair or not, parents must step in and do some of the dirty work themselves. In truth, if we are after enduring, meaningful change–the kind that touches individual kids in individual homes–no one can do it better than parents anyway.
To begin, concerned parents should adopt a realistic view about the role the electronic entertainment industry can or will have in creating a safer media environment for kids. For example, parents should save themselves any future exasperation by recognizing that the television industry (with the obvious exceptions of cable channels like Nickelodeon and the Disney Channel) is not particularly interested in courting the seemingly unprofitable child audience. By deserting children and families during the traditional family hour, by bumping kid-friendly programming in favor of morning news shows and tacky afternoon talk shows, and by offering children’s programs that are thinly veiled licensed-product merchandising efforts, network television has very clearly indicated its priorities. Half-hearted efforts at governmental compliance complete the picture. In response to the demand for increased educational programming for children as stipulated in the Children’s Television Act of 1990, local broadcasters blithely offered programs like Donahue and The Jetsons as examples of educational television. More recently during the ratings and V-chip debate, the industry adopted a concept not unlike the fabled fox guarding the chicken coop, allowing network producers to rate their own shows on a fuzzy, nonspecific age-based standard.
On the other hand, parents should also become familiar with some of the solutions–and their respective limitations–offered by various arms of the industry. For example, as part of a voluntary effort, video, computer, and CD-ROM games now feature ratings that designate the games as suitable for young children, preteenagers, teenagers up to and over the age of 17, and adults only. Cable companies offer blocking options for channels subscribers deem undesirable. And beginning in 1999, the infamous V-chip will become available to consumers.
These are promising steps, but they will only carry consumers so far. As solutions, they only seek to regulate or restrict the flow of material, rather than improve it in the first place. They are patches, so to speak, and for every patching solution offered there seems to be a serious leak. For example, despite video game ratings, many retail outlets sell or rent games to anyone of any age with cash in hand. As for the Internet, a source of serious concern for many parents, recent efforts at a creating kid-friendly cyberspace have proven inevitably weak given its breakneck rate of growth. There are now millions of web pages, but many have not been rated by the Recreational Software Advisory Council or SafeSurf. Meanwhile, software products have been developed to block objectionable material and limit the times of the day when kids can surf the Internet. Regrettably, most of these products can be defeated, and those that can’t are fairly to extremely restrictive, preventing kids from getting most of their on-line experience.
As for the loudest debate of all, neither a rating system nor the V-chip is going fully solve our problems with children’s TV viewing. First, only new TV sets will have the V-chips within them, meaning that many families will need to spend money to reap the benefits of this technology for the first several years. If you want to purchase a V-chip, see the section on devices.
Either by design or by default, the media industry is incapable of satisfying the concerns of parents wary of its influence. And where the industry leaves off, parents must be willing to jump in and pick up the slack. No one else is going to do the hard work of monitoring what kind and how much television children watch. And no one knows individual kids’ needs and temperaments better than their parents. In the end, there is no substitute for parental guidance, which is the key for kids making the most of their TV and Internet experiences.
Making a Difference
Parents overwhelmed by the long reach of the media might be at a loss over where and how to start making a dent in its consumption. Fortunately, it’s fairly simple. It begins with small, daily decisions made right at the breakfast table, in the living room, or wherever family life unfolds: How much TV will be allowed on weekdays? On weekends? How much time can each child spend surfing the Internet or playing Nintendo? Which television programs and video games will be declared off-limits? On what basis? And what, besides electronic entertainment, can engagingly fill a child’s free hours?
For the most part, a parent’s decisions will return again to the central issues of content and time. Though content issues–replete with oozing bullet wounds and references to casual sex–tend to garner the most attention, the more fundamental issue is really that of time. Childhood is short, and parents need to honestly consider how much of their kids’ time is worth devoting to the small screen. If an honest review shows a need for change, parents should be ready for action.
The most obvious step involves developing and maintaining consistently enforced rules regarding how much time kids can spend watching TV and pursuing video and computer activities. This is hard, almost always unwelcome work, but sitting down with kids and presenting a fair, but firm plan is an essential place to start. Though most experts suggest keeping the limit under two hours a day, families should individually consider their own goals and needs and come up with their expectations and strategy accordingly. Regardless how a family’s rules actually take shape, logical consequences should consistently follow up any creative rule bending; on the other hand, kids who stick to the new plan deserve plenty of acknowledgment and praise (and maybe even a reward or two: A trip to the zoo? Pizza and a movie?) for working to break a difficult habit.
No doubt, the task of monitoring kids’ media habits is made more difficult by the prospect of working parents and single parent homes. Those parents who find themselves unable to keep an eye on their kids’ TV, video, and computer consumption might consider finding quality afterschool programs, making certain homework or chore requirements, developing a level of trust that TV privileges will not be abused, or investigating the products available aimed at limiting and monitoring kids’ TV consumption in the absence of parental supervision.
Though establishing clear rules and expectations is a natural start, the better and more enduring part of monitoring involves the clever art of diversionary tactics–that is, introducing kids to pleasures beyond the small screen to make it less attractive in the first place. Homes that heartily encourage art, music, storytelling, reading, imaginative play, sports, and nature will find that television and other electronic entertainment naturally play less central roles in their kids’ lives. This “liberal arts” approach to family life is easiest to institute when children are very young, but even families with older, dedicated viewers will see positive changes if new interests and opportunities are enthusiastically introduced.
If parents can commit to the admittedly hard work of monitoring how much time is spent watching TV and playing computer games, more than half the battle is already won. The other half of the equation–the issue of content–will have been mitigated in part simply by limiting the time of their overall exposure. Yet even with time rules in place, content issues will continue to drive many parents to distraction. Here parents will need to step in, as well.
One of the best ways parents can monitor television’s content is simply by watching TV with their kids, serving as clarifiers, translators, and even censors when necessary. Not only does this keep TV on the level of an active family activity, but it also serves as a great forum for values instruction. Demeaning stereotypes can be countered, positive messages can be applauded, consequence-free violence can be challenged, and delicate conversations on difficult topics like sex and racism can be broached. Parental involvement is the ideal, but in the real world parents cannot always be on hand to run television interference. To help them learn to make appropriate decisions on their own, kids need clear guidelines regarding acceptable and unacceptable programs and material. Parents need to determine content limits and, no less importantly, explain their reasoning to their kids. Not only will an explanation make content limits seem more logical and less punitive, but it also gives kids a solid model for their own decision-making processes. Moreover, when kids understand a parent’s reasoning, they may be less likely to push the boundaries when they’re on their own.
Parents should also get involved in the content debate a wider scale by actively voicing their disapproval (or support, as the case may be) to local stations and national networks. To the extent that network television exists to serve the FCC’s famed “public good,” parents have a wholly legitimate basis on which to continue clamoring about increasing quality programming for children. More potently, perhaps, to the extent that they are television consumers–watching long strings of commercials for toothpaste and four-wheel drive vehicles–parents have an absolute right to voice their opinions (and then a responsibility to follow up with boycotts and letter-writing campaigns if appropriate). Networks have a knack for developing a considerably more sensitive ear when ratings and profits are at stake. Finally, if parents remain dissatisfied with the current age-based rating system in place, they should continue pressuring both the industry and their state and federal Congressmen and women for a shift to detailed, content-based ratings.
Where kids are concerned, content is a key issue; but again, quality only goes so far. No matter if every program that aired on television was suddenly stellar in content and education motive, it would little benefit kids placed in TV’s care hour upon hour each day. To develop into a healthy, independent adulthood, childhood must be a balance of feeling, touching, seeing, tasting, smelling, fearing, loving, dreaming, and imagining. Childhood is a loud, tactile, messy business; television, video games, and computer activities–kid-friendly or not–are simply too passive, impersonal, and limiting to wholly serve the developing needs of children.
No matter what obligations–real or perceived–the electronic entertainment industry has toward kids and families, no producer, executive board, or network president can be counted on to provide the environment that will ensure a healthy, balanced childhood. This is a job for parents, one more in the hard, but extraordinary business of raising kids.
Click on the + sign to see the answer to each question below:
Click here to see a Powerpoint slide show on one of my talks.
REMOTE CONTROL: A SENSIBLE APPROACH TO
KIDS, TV, AND THE NEW ELECTRONIC MEDIA
As an individual deeply concerned about the changing nature of childhood, Dr. Leonard Jason brings his expertise to Remote Control: A Sensible Approach to Kids, TV, and the New Electronic Media. Designed for parents, educators, and other concerned individuals, the book seeks to help families understand and, if necessary, reduce the role that television, video, and computer activities play in the lives of children.
Remote Control comes at a time when childhood in America is shifting uncomfortably before our eyes. Bright days of discovery and imagination are being squeezed out by sober new realities. Today’s social and economic forces, often demanding early responsibility and heavily structured schedules, seem to pluck the child right out of childhood. Advances in technology also impact the youngest generation. Television must now be considered a childhood staple, serving alternately as baby-sitter, friend, entertainer, and convenient means of escape. American children watch an average of 3½ to 4 hours of television each day, with about 25% of kids viewing between 4 and 11 hours daily. From Big Bird’s education agenda to the sex and violence of adult programs, television’s images and ideas powerfully attract young viewers. Sophisticated video games and computer activities further capture the attention of children, and in the background we hear the television and computer industries promising more–and more interactive–fun for the future.
As television and computer technology assume a growing presence in the daily lives of children, the need for objective, up-to-date information about this trend becomes evident. Remote Control offers a balanced, non-biased appraisal of the current research in the field of television viewing and computer activities. Specific topics include: violence, sex, stereotyping and commercialism on television and in video game content; passive versus active viewing; children’s comprehension of television; children’s attraction to television; and the cognitive, physical, social, and emotional risks of excessive viewing.
Importantly, Remote Control is not one long litany of television’s evils. In fact, the entire second half of the book is dedicated to teaching families how to better manage television in their lives. Though Dr. Jason’s area of expertise involves reducing children’s viewing through behavior modification techniques, we realize that different families have different needs. To that end, we have detailed a broad range of mediation strategies ranging from simple family rules to the use of high-tech computers that tally kids’ hours in front of the TV set. The book concludes with a chapter on how to live both with and without television. Readers will learn how to maximize television’s positive potential and how to maximize their own lives when the TV is off. To help families get started with new endeavors, we end the book with a list of 101 fun and simple things families can do together.
At the heart of Remote Control is the belief that kids need more opportunities to simply be kids. Television is not all bad, but childhood is too short and fleeting to be spent solely learning its charms. There are trees to climb, friends to meet, books to read, and a world to explore. Reducing the role of television in their lives frees the time for these simple, yet somehow essential pursuits.
Our work has focused on evaluating several products, and our findings appear in the following book. Jason, L.A., & Hanaway, E.K. (1997). Remote control: A sensible approach to kids, TV, and the new electronic media . Sarasota, Fl.: Professional Resource Press. (You can order this book by writing to Professional Resource Press, PO Box 3197, Sarasota, Fl., 34230-3197.)
Check out this site for more information: Remote Control
About the Authors of this Book
Dr. Leonard Jason has written and edited ten books in the field of psychology, has contributed over 40 chapters in psychological books, and has published over 700 articles in professional journals. He is a current or past member of the editorial boards of eight psychological journals. Past president of the Division of Community Psychology of the American Psychological Association, Dr. Jason has received several media awards from the organization.
As an expert on psychological strategies for reducing television and media viewing in children, Dr. Jason has served as a well-respected source for the media. He has been interviewed by a many national magazines, including: Psychology Today, Parenting Magazine, Woman’s Day, New Woman, Scholastic Choices, Reader’s Digest, Woman’s World, and Ladies’ Home Journal. In addition, he is frequently interviewed for articles appearing in a variety of newspapers and wire services, including the New York Times, the Washington Post, United Press International, USA Today, the Chicago Tribune, and the Chicago Sun Times.
Elizabeth Kennedy Hanaway has a B.A. in Journalism and Mass Communications and has an M.A. in History. She works as a free-lance writer.
Below are articles written or co-written by Leonard A. Jason on the media, policy, and television and internet viewing:
- Jason, L.A. & Klich, M. (1982). Use of feedback in reducing television watching. Psychological Reports, 51, 812-814.
- Jason, L. A. (1983). Self-monitoring in reducing children’s excessive television viewing. Psychological Reports, 53, 1280.
- Jason, L.A. & Rooney-Rebeck, P. (1984). Reducing excessive television viewing. Child and Family Behavior Therapy, 6, 61-69.
- Durbin, M., & Jason, L.A. (1984). A token-actuated timer for line-voltage devices. Behavior Research Methods, Instruments, & Computers, 16, 294-296.
- Jason, L. A. (1984). Reducing excessive television viewing among seven children in one family. The Behavior Therapist, 7, 3-4.
- Jason, L.A. (1985). Using a token-actuated timer to reduce television viewing. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 18, 269-272.
- Jason, L.A. (1987). Reducing children’s excessive television viewing and assessing secondary changes. Journal of Clinical Child Psychology, 16, 245-250.
- Sarlo, G., Jason, L.A. & Lonak, C. (1988). Parent strategies for limiting children’s television watching. Psychological Reports, 63, 435-438.
- Jason, L.A., Johnson, S. Z. & Jurs, A. (1993). Reducing children’s television viewing with an inexpensive lock. Child and Family Behavior Therapy, 15(3), 45-54.
- Jason, L.A. & Johnson, S.Z. (1995). Reducing excessive television viewing while increasing physical activity. Child & Family Behavior Therapy, 17, 35-45.
- Johnson, S.Z. & Jason, L.A. (1996). Evaluation of a device aimed at reducing children’s television viewing. [Letter to the Editor]. Child and Family Behavior Therapy, 18, 59-61.
- Jason, L.A. (1997). Community building: Values for a sustainable future. Westport, CT: Praeger.
- Jason, L.A. & Hanaway, L.K. (1997). Remote control: A sensible approach to kids, TV, and the new electronic media. Sarasota, Fl.: Professional Resource Press.
- Jason, L.A., Hanaway, L., & Brackshaw, E.A. (1999). Violent behavior and the media. In T.P. Gullotta & S.J. McElhaney (Ed.) Voices in homes and communities. (pp. 133-156). Washington, D.C.: National Mental Health Associaton.
- Jason, L.A., & Brackshaw, E. (1999). Case study: Reducing TV viewing and corresponding increases in physical activity and subsequent weight loss. Journal of Behavior Therapy & Experimental Psychiatry, 30, 145-151.
- Jason, L.A., & Fries, M. (2004). Helping parents reduce children’s TV viewing. Research on Social Work Practice, 14, 121-131.
- Jason, L.A., Danielewicz, J., & Mesina, A. (2005). Reducing media viewing: Implications for behaviorists. Journal of Early and Intensive Behavioral Intervention, 2, 194-206.
- Jason, L.A., & Kim, K.L. (2007). Sex, guns and rock ‘n’ roll: The influence of media in children’s lives. Commissioned by Kathleen Kovner Kline (Ed.). Hardwired to connect—Investigating the social, moral, and spiritual foundations of child well being. A report to the nation from the Commission on Children at Risk. Dartmouth Medical College: Hanover, New Hampshire.
- Jason, L.A. & O’Donnell, Jr. W. T. (2008). Behavioral interventions to reduce youth exposure to unhealthful media. In J.A. Trafton & W. P.Gordon (Eds.). Best practices for behavioral management of chronic disease. Volume 3. (pp. 454-479). Institute for Disease Management, Menlo Park, CA.
- Jason, L. A. & Barach, I. M. (April 1, 2009). Kids and the media: what we know and what we need to learn [Review of the book The Handbook of Children, Media, and Development]. PsycCRITIQUES-Contemporary Psychology: APA Review of Books, 54 (No. 13), Article 8.
- Clyne, E., & Jason, L.A. (2011). Reducing children’s media viewing. Case Reports in Psychiatry, Article ID 287243, doi:10.1155/2011/28724. Available at: http://www.hindawi.com/crim/psychiatry/2011/287243/
- Jason, L.A., & Glenwick, D.S. (2012). Innovative methodological approaches to community-based research: Theory and application. Washington: American Psychological Association.
- Adams, M.L., Jason, L.A., Pokorny, S., & Hunt, Y. (2013). Exploration of the link between tobacco retailers in school neighborhoods and student smoking. Journal of School Health, 83, 112-118. PMCID: PMC3556821
- Jason, L.A. (2013). Principles of Social Change. New York: Oxford University Press.
- Jason, L. A., Beasley, C. R., & Hunter, B.A. (2015). Advocacy and social justice. In V. Chien & S.M. Wolfe (Ed.). Foundations of Community Psychology Practice. (pp. 262-289). New York: Sage.
- Jason, L.A. & Aase, D.M. (2016). Community-clinical psychology. In M.M.D. Rodriguez (Ed.). APA Handbook of Clinical Psychology. Volume 1. Clinical Psychology: Roots and Branches. (pp. 201-222). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.
- Maton, K.I., Humphreys, K., Jason, LA., & Shinn, B. (2017). Community psychology in the policy arena. In C. M. Bond, Keys, C., & I. Serrano-Garcia (Eds.). Handbook of Community Psychology. Washington DC: American Psychological Association.
Using Earn TV
For over 20 years, I developed and evaluated devices to help parents regain control of their children’s TV viewing. My first inventions involved a token actuated meter. Children earned tokens for homework or good behavior, and the token could then be inserted into a meter, and the meter allowed the child to watch TV for 30 minutes. Parents liked this device, and the children were able to reduce TV viewing and increase other activities. I have then decided to automate this system to make it even easier to use. My most recent invention, called Earn TV, is described below.
If there are several television sets in the house, parents might connect an Earn TV to each set. Earn TV could also be connected to computers if a child is spending too much time interacting on the internet as opposed to interacting and playing directly with other children. If a child’s television viewing is restricted to only one TV set, then only one Earn TV is needed. The child needs to earn time by doing one of a variety of activities before being able to watch TV. There are three ways the Earn TV device can be used. Parents can put a certain amount of time in the device each day as a reward for doing all chores. Parents can reward their children by giving them paper tokens, and the tokens can be later exchanged for TV viewing (i.e., the parent would accept the paper token, and put a certain amount of TV viewing in the Earn TV). Finally, a timer can be placed around the child’s wrist or leg. When the child engages in activities (e.g., rides a bike), time is earned, which can later be placed into the Earn TV meter in order to turn the TV on for periods of time.
Once the Earn TV meter has been connected to the TV set, children can be told how to play the Earn TV game. They will now need to wear the timer during certain designated activities. It is also important to be very precise in explaining what types of activities earn television viewing. As examples, a child might be able to earn time for any of the following activities: homework, extracurricular reading, chores, games, sports, playing musical instruments, playing with friends, etc. Some activities do not expend actual movements, so when these activities are engaged in, the timer is not being activated. So, if a parent wants the child to read for an hour, and then be able to watch TV for a half hour, the parent just gives the child a paper token and this can later be used to earn a half hour of time. Also, if a child is sick, and the parent wants the child to be able to watch TV without exercising, time can be just inserted into the Earn TV meter.
Changes in viewing television are seen very quickly. With children having to earn the right to watch, they begin to try out new activities. In one or two weeks, dramatic changes in the children’s TV viewing are evident. We generally find that after about 4-6 weeks, the children have shifted their interests into more productive activities. At this time the Earn TV can be removed, however, if excessive viewing does return, the children are informed that the Earn TV will be re-established.
I published an article in Child & Family Behavior Therapy, entitled “Reducing excessive television viewing while increasing physical activity.” In this study, a 9-year old male was provided the opportunity to watch TV contingent on exercising on a bicycle. During the pre-intervention period, the child spent an average of 3.9 hours each day watching TV and 2.5 hours playing Nintendo. At a five month follow-up, after using our program described above, the child’s TV viewing was 1.8 hours daily, with no time spent with the Nintendo. Although no weight measurements were recorded, the mother reported to the investigators that her child had lost weight, and that he had previously been overweight. A second study with this device was published in the Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry, entitled “Case study: Reducing TV viewing and corresponding increases in physical activity and subsequent weight loss.”
Devices Currently Available
There are now devices to block out objectionable material on the internet (see products below). Software however is no substitute for parental guidance. There are millions of web sites and many have not been rated by the Recreational Software Advisory Council or Safe Surf.
Token TV– This device allows parents to control their children’s TV viewing. Kids either earn or are given tokens, which turn on the TV for 30 minutes.
Time-Scout– This device can be used on any electronic product (TV, computer, etc.), and uses a credit card to provide children certain amounts of viewing time.
TV Allowance – A computer that helps limit overall time TV is on.
Family Safe Media – specializing in parental control devices such as v-chips, internet filtering, and other technologies for kid-safe media.
TVBlanket – TVBlanket is an electronic device that automatically detects and blocks commercials while you are watching.
Tri-Vision International Ltd./Ltee – full service manufacturer and distributor of consumer, commercial and industrial electronic products. Developer and manufacturer of the V-Chip.
Cyber Patrol -Cyber Patrol can block out objectionable material on the internet.
TVInhibitor – A picture helps reduce TV viewing.
Cybersitter – Cybersitter can be reached at this site.
Surfwatch – Surfwatch can be reached at this site
TV-Turnoff Network (Formerly TV-Free America) is a nonprofit organzation that encourages children and adults to watch less television in order to promote healthier lives.
Although there are thousands of studies investigating the effects of media watching on children, there has been little work devoted to what can be done to help children reduce their media viewing. TV locks and computers to limit TV and media viewing are beneficial, but they do not specifically encourage new behaviors. The V-chip will help parents reduce offensive violence, but in addition to limiting certain types of programs, there is a need to reduce the overall amount of TV and media viewing and to encourage other behaviors. There is a need for new products that can both reduce TV and media viewing and help children develop new activities like exercising.
My Address and Further Information
My email address is Ljason@depaul.edu, and my telephone number is 773-325-2018. I am the Director of the Center for Community Research at DePaul University in Chicago, Il.