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Hide the remote!

Published:Monday | April 5, 2010 | 4:00 AM

Jonique Gaynor, Staff Reporter

Cable television and the relative ease with which it can be accessed has no doubt made the lives of some parents much more difficult.

It is no secret that many cable stations air material that is not suitable for children, but in an age and society where many children are often home alone, it is becoming increasingly difficult for parents to monitor the things their children watch.

Many parents, we are sure, have thought about hiding the remote, just to ensure that their child has limited or no access to the television. Experts believe, however, that burying the remote in a dark, lonely corner is not the solution to the problem and instead, parents should engage their children in discussions about age-appropriate material.

Hiding not the answer

Psychologist, Dr Asquith Reid, told The Gleaner that hiding things from children is not the answer to problems. He also said children, in this age of technology, are often very capable of breaking through locks or codes that may be placed on televisions to restrict their access, so a more fool-proof method is needed.

He suggested, "Instead of hiding programmes, parents can simply have a 'pre-talk' with their child. Talk about the programme that is about to come on. Tell them this is what we are about to see and tell them that you don't approve, but explain to them why you don't approve. It can't just be because you say so."

He said if parents are reasonable with the rules they make and if they include children in the rule-making process, it is more likely that the children will obey the rules. "If the parents are reasonable, children will listen. Most children rebel because they feel like their parents are not fair," he said.

Dr Reid said instead of going as far as hiding the remote, parents need to be the guide to the programmes their children watch, along with outlining and explaining why some programmes are inappropriate. He said, "Hiding things from children only make them more curious. There will be questions in their minds like 'why can't we watch this, what is it about?'"

While encouraging the use of parental locks where possible, he said this should be used in conjunction with proper parenting skills.

Karla Baker, mother of three-year-old Ashleigh, has put Dr Reid's suggestions into practice. She explained that from a very young age, she told her daughter that there are certain programmes that are just not for children. She said, "I don't really have to hide the remote. She knows what is for children and what is not. Even when she sees someone else watching something, for example, her father, she will say 'that is not for children', and if something comes on with people kissing, she will cover her face. I don't think parents have to hide the remote, they just have to put restrictions on what their children watch and monitor them."

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