Though the new TV ratings offer some help for parents, many find them confusing. And if you miss the opening credits, you often are unaware of the rating unless you look up the program in a television listing. Here are some other resources available to parents who attempt to more closely monitor and guide their children's television viewing.
Program guides and ratings books. A wide variety of these guides are available. To find the one right for you, look up a movie or television show you think is inappropriate for your kids and see if the author agrees.
The October 1997 issue of Family Life magazine: "What is TV doing to your kids and what can you do about it?" is a terrific resource for parents. It offers ratings and age guidelines for more than 100 shows and also gives guidelines for starting a family video library for kids of all ages. For just $2.95, you'll find yourself referring to it often.
A new quarterly magazine on the newsstands. Smart TV has monitoring tips, but also recommends electronic controls such as time limiting devices like "TV Allowance" and filtering devices like "TV LockOut" and provides ordering information.
The American Academy of Pediatrics has an informative free brochure available at many doctors' offices in its Guidelines for Parents series titled "Television and the Family."
And if you are concerned about the effects violent programs can have on your kids, check out "Viewing Violence" by Madeline LeVine. It's a disturbing but important work.
-- Kathleen Rizzo Young