As a mentor, and a parent, I am always intrigued with the discussions revolving around the TV viewing habits of our children. Parents always lament on the excessive time their children spend in front of the idiot box. Invariably, their complaint is about the quality and quantity of programmes. Pre-teens are usually seen engrossed in cartoon shows that seem to be a nuisance to an adult mind. Teenagers, on the other hand, prefer reality shows and film-based programmes.
As a mentor believing in the code of "free-will", I would want to give the child freedom to choose. The only way to achieve this to give the child viable choices. If the parents give a child an alternative like "Do your homework" or "Read a book" to TV, the child doesn't seem to have a comparable choice to the TV show. How then do we expect the child to happily accept the not-so-good choice? Even if the child goes into her room to study, her ears will always be craving for the sound coming out of your favourite soap on TV. More so, her mind will also be questioning the unfair treatment from an adult human being to a child human being.
Now try this: Just start doing a "real experiment" in the room next to the TV room with your door open. If you are like I am, you would find it difficult to creatively think of a ingenious experiment. No fret! Just browse for some exciting stuff on the net, and you can just start by "copying" something off the net. One of my favourite starters is creating a volcanic eruption by mixing some vinegar, floor and baking soda. You can do the experiment in the lawn to give it a more natural touch. When I did this one the first time, my children didn't even seem to acknowledge the presence of the TV. You could get some really cool ideas from sites like www.instructables.com and www.thereifixedit.com.
The bottomline is: If you want your children off the TV set, do it yourself first. Do something together and you would have given your children a "viable" choice.
PS: Add me (anirudhphadke) to your delicious account to browse through some of the interesting bookmarks that may just come in handy in doing something creative with your children.