I was thinking about this while weeding my garden. It seems that my children had to go from the Nintendo Wii to the computer to cartoons. They did not want to try and entertain themselves. So we are going to change the way things are around here. I was reading this article on How TV Affects Your Child and found some really good advice. My favorites are:
Stock the room in which you have your TV with plenty of other non-screen entertainment (books, kids' magazines, toys, puzzles, board games, etc.) to encourage kids to do something other than watch the tube
Check the TV listings and program reviews ahead of time for programs your family can watch together (i.e., developmentally appropriate and nonviolent programs that reinforce your family's values). Choose shows that foster interest and learning in hobbies and education (reading, science, etc.).
Come up with a family TV schedule that you all agree upon each week. Then, post the schedule in a visible area (e.g., on the refrigerator) so that everyone knows which programs are OK to watch and when. And make sure to turn off the TV when the "scheduled" program is over instead of channel surfing.
Another great piece of advice is to talk with your children about what you are watching. I am the type that does not like to talk too much while watching tv. I think that it is a great idea though. We really should be spending more time discussing what they are viewing and reading.
TV Free Activities:
101 TV-Free alternatives
TV Free-Television Free Activities (some religious content)
Fifty TV-Free Activities for Kids this Summer
Unplug Your Kids
101 Things to Do Instead of TV (pdf)
Instead of TV