Believe it or not, TV can actually help your child’s development

Moms, you’ll be relieved to hear that not all screen time is bad for your little one.

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We’ve all been feeling enormous amounts of guilt for letting our kids watch more TV than they should during lockdown. So, you’ll be as glad as us to hear that watching TV can actually help your child’s development.

The World Health Organization’s (WHO) recommendation of one hour of screen time for children under the age of 5 is wishful thinking, especially now that children are spending more time indoors due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

ALSO SEE: Mom, why you shouldn’t beat yourself up about screen time during lockdown

But psychologist Tshepiso Matentjie says television shows can be harnessed for play therapy.

What is play therapy and how can TV help?

Through the use of media such as storytelling, puppet and sand play, drama, music, dance, painting and drawing, and board games, play therapy helps children tap into their natural ability to express their feelings to communicate and resolve problems. Play therapy is best suited kids aged 4 to 12 years.

ALSO SEE: Play therapy and its benefits explained

What exactly should my child watch?

If you’re a DStv subscriber, tune into School of Laugher on channel 301. “What we’ve tried to do with the DStv School of Laughter is provide a safe space for children and parents to choose from a range of age-appropriate content that is both entertaining and educational,” says Thabisa Mkhwanazi, Executive Head of Marketing at MultiChoice South Africa.

He adds that School of Laughter is built to ensure that children are not only entertained but also reap various developmental benefits while enjoying their favourite TV shows.

How will this benefit my child?

However, says Tshepiso, before switching the television on, it’s important for parents to know the content of the show and to recognise how its themes can mirror the lived experiences and emotions your child is going through. “Watch the programme with your child then engage in an interactive conversation about the story. Use the five W’s and H (Who, What, Where, When, Why and How) questions to help them process, learn and express new skills.”

She adds that it is really important that the discussion ends on a positive note so your child is left with a sense of hope and optimism. “Through this process, your child will develop positive social and problem-solving skills and coping strategies to effectively deal with both positive and negative experiences,” Tshepiso says.

With most schools still closed due to the national lockdown regulations, exposing your child to compelling and relevant TV shows, will help both of you find creative ways to continue their development outside of the classroom.

ALSO SEE: 8 best educational apps for toddlers

“TV is a fun and interactive teacher that can be recorded, paused and replayed to repeat the experience and reinforce what has been learnt previously,” says Tshepiso.

DStv’s array of shows encourages open-ended questions and interaction through built-in silences. These types of learning resources are invaluable as they supplement the training gaps of teachers and parents.

Catch the best developmental programming for your child on School of Laughter by visiting www.dstv.co.za.

More about the expert:

Tshepiso Matentjie is a registered Educational Psychologist and Life Coach. She has 25 years’ experience in academia, psychological assessments, counselling, training and life coaching. She is currently doing her post-doctoral fellowship with Stellenbosch University. Learn more about Tshepiso Matentjie here.

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