1. Be alert to the shows your children see. This is important for all children, and most important for young children: the younger the child, the more impressionable he or she is.
2. Avoid using television, videos, or video games as a babysitter. It might be convenient for busy parents, but it can begin a pattern of always turning to media for entertainment or diversion. Simply turning the sets off is not nearly as effective as planning some other fun activity with the family.
3. Limit the use of television to no more than one or two quality hours per day. Set other limits, too: no television or video games before school, during daytime hours, during meals, or before homework is done.
4. Keep televisions and VCRs out of your children's bedrooms. Putting them there encourages more viewing and diminishes your ability to monitor their use.
5. Turn off the television during mealtimes. Use this time to catch up and connect with one another.
6. Turn on the television only when there is something specific you have decided is worth watching. Don't turn the TV on "to see if there's something on." Decide in advance if a program is worth viewing. Identify high-quality programs, using evaluations of programs in your selection process.
7. Don't make the television the focal point of your house. Avoid placing the television in the most prominent location in you home. Families watch less television or play fewer videos if the sets are not literally at the center of their lives.
8. Watch what your children are watching. Know what they're viewing and discuss it with them. Talk and make connections with your children while the program is on.
9. Be especially careful of viewing just before bedtime. Emotion-invoking images may linger and intrude into sleep.
10. Learn about movies that are playing and the videos available for rental or purchase. Be explicit with children about your guidelines for appropriate movie viewing and review proposed movie choices in advance.
11. Become "media literate" so you know how to evaluate media offerings critically. First learn yourself and then teach your children. Learn about advertising and teach your children about its influences on the media they use.
12. Limit your own television viewing. Set a good example by your moderation and discrimination in viewing. Be careful when children are around and may observe material from "your" program.
13. Insist on better programming for our children. We all need to raise our voices so that they are heard by program decision-makers and sponsors. Take over the control.
You can make your voice heard by signing on to the Connecticut State Medical Society's position statement, which will be sent to local television stations. To participate, call the CSMS at 203-865-0587.