Controlling The Remote Might Improve Kids Behavior

(SIOUX CITY, IA) - Taking over the remote could improve your kids' behavior. That's the findings of a new study in "The Journal of Pediatrics."

The study involved 565 parents. Half were coached for six months on getting their 3-to-5 year-olds to watch educational shows. At the end of the study, those children were better behaved.

The Nathaniel family kids and their friends are big fans of the Disney Channel. Something that's mom-approved.

"Whatever that's kid friendly. They're allowed to watch sports," said Kristi Nathaniel, a mother of three.

When they were little, Nathaniel limited the TV to only a few programs.

"Whether it was Sesame Street or Dora The Explorer, whatever those programs were that were educational, it would kind of help what was happening, what I was doing one-on-one with them," said Nathaniel.

Now, her oldest is 13 and her youngest is 9.

"When she comes home and she's talking about a show, I need to be watching it to make sure it's actually something that is going to be beneficial to or that's ok for her to watch and that way I can explain it to her or talk to her about it," said Nathaniel.

Parents usually worry about 3 things on TV: violence, stereotypes, and commercialization.

Jessica Pleuss is an assistant psychology professor at Morningside College. She said parents should make sure they're teaching their children how to be wise watchers.

"You want to make sure you're explaining your concerns to them and your rules. If they're not allowed to watch certain programs, you want them to know why because the goal is to have a media literate child who can sort of regulate their own viewing eventually," said Pleuss.

When it comes down to age and turning on the TV, television and screen time in general is really not appropriate for babies and toddlers, said Pleuss.

"The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no screen time for birth through two," she explained.

For kids three and up, Pleuss said parents should limit TV time to no more than two hours a day.

"We need to make sure they're doing other things as well and not just sitting and watching TV," said Nathaniel.

That's exactly what the Nathaniel kids do. They play instruments, sports, and even sled in their backyard. It's all recreation that make the day full of experiences the TV might take away.

Here's one option that parents can use to control what their kids watch. Some cable companies offer remote controls specifically designed for children. One of them, called "Cricket", has eight buttons programmed to hop directly to a kid's favorite channels.