Guest Author - C.S. Bezas
Imagine my surprise to learn there was another monitoring system out there to help parents in teaching moderation of all these wonderful technological tools. For truly, TV and the Internet, cable and satellite, DVD and VCR machines can all richly enhance our lives. But just as too much dessert leads to unavoidable health problems, too much media can negatively impact us.
My family and I have had the opportunity now to live with this new product now for over a month. It is called the TVAllowance. According to John Dorsey, PhD and Medical Director for the company, the TVAllowance garnered "The Best of Show" award at the consumers' electronic show in Las Vegas. I can see why.
The TVAllowance is a simple little gizmo which takes less than five minutes to set up. You plug the TV into the unit and plug the unit into the wall. And then each member of the family gets to pick out their own private PIN (or secret code) number. Once those are entered into the unit, the fun begins. As a family, you sit down and talk about how much time you want to spend together. What activities do your kids want to do with you? Donít be fooled: studies have shown teens want family time, they just donít know how to express it.
Once youíve discussed family time, then talk about how much time each person in the family thinks is appropriate for media time (time watching TV, playing video games, etc). If you allow the kids to pick (within reason) the time they think they need for TV, you will have their buy-in and participation with the whole endeavor.
This is then when you, as the parent, program in the time for the week that the kids said they needed for the week. Then let the fun begin! Each time they want to watch TV, they simply enter their secret code into the TVAllowance and when done, simply shut it off. Now that's easy!
The important thing is to make sure you follow up on the planned family activities the kids thought of and let the kids follow up metering out their media/TV watching time. And guess what? This amazing little unit makes it a snap, because it's all programmed in. You're not the bad guy if the kids' time runs out. They were the ones to decide what time they needed.
Of course, flexibility is important. Revisit adjusting time allotments after a few weeks to be fair. But other than that - your job is done! If the kids run out of time before the end of the week, they will quickly learn the value of balance and budgeting. Far better for them to make mistakes with budgeting TV time, than to make mistakes with budgeting money.
Studies have shown that kids that have the TVAllowance in use in their homes actually lose weight, do better in school, and manifested less aggressive behavior. Not bad for one little 6x8 inch unit!
I wanted to learn more. John Dorsey, Medical Director for the TVAllowance company, was gracious enough to take some time to answer my questions.
Click here to read the final part of our series on "Too Much TV."