TV Watch. Television Tools. for Parents101.

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2 It s the start of a new school year, and you ve worked hard to make sure your kids are ready for it. They ve done all their summer reading and the backpacks are filled with school supplies. You ve been focused on preparing your kids for the school year, but have you prepared yourself for the new television season? Popular shows will be returning as well as new ones. With so many channels and choices, it important to sort through which programs are suitable for your children. In order to help you take control of what your family watches on television, TV Watch has created an easy guide to help you brush up on the basic tools and information. But don t worry you won t be up all night cramming because learning how to make your television family friendly can be done with a few simple clicks of the remote. So study s for Parents 101 and take control of television content Parental Programming 101 is divided into three simple chapters: CHAPTER ONE: Learn the Ratings CHAPTER TWO: Manage Your TV Lineup CHAPTER THREE: Use Technology to Enforce Your Decisions 1

3 CHAPTER ONE: LEARN THE RATINGS The TV ratings system gives parents information about the age-appropriateness and content of TV programs. Understanding the TV program ratings are helpful to understanding what type of show you are viewing. These ratings appear on the top left hand corner of your television screen at the beginning of each program and intermittently throughout the show, usually after commercials. Other ways you can find TV shows ratings include: Information or program guide that comes with your TV, cable or satellite service Local newspaper listings TV Guide Broadcast and cable networks websites Each TV rating has a brief description to help you understand the type of content descriptions: you will be viewing. Here is a breakdown of the TV Program Ratings and their All Children: This program is designed to be appropriate for all children. Whether animated or live-action, the themes and elements in this program are specifically designed for a very young audience, including children from ages 2 6. This program not expected to frighten younger children. Directed to Older Children: This program designed for children age 7 and above. It may be more appropriate for children who have acquired the developmental for skills needed to distinguish between make-believe and reality. Themes and elements in this program may include mild fantasy violence or comedic violence, or may frighten children under the age of 7. Therefore, parents may wish to consider the suitability of this program for their very young children. Directed to Older Children-Fantasy Violence: For those programs where fantasy violence may be more intense or more combative than in other programs in this category, such programs will be designated TV-Y7-FV. 2

4 General Audience: Most parents would find this program suitable for all ages. Although this rating does not signify a program designed specifically for children, most parents may let younger children watch this program unattended. It contains little or no violence, no strong language and little or no sexual dialogue or situations. Parental Guidance Suggested: This program contains material that parents may find unsuitable for younger children. Many parents may want to watch it with their younger children. The theme itself may call for parental guidance and/or the program contains one or more of the following: moderate violence (V), some sexual situations (S), infrequent coarse language (L) or some suggestive dialogue (D). Parents Strongly Cautioned: This program contains some material that many parents would find unsuitable for children under 14 years of age. Parents are strongly urged to exercise greater care in monitoring this program and are cautioned against letting children under the age of 14 watch unattended. This program contains one or more of the following: intense violence (V), intense sexual situations (S), strong coarse language (L) or intensely suggestive dialogue (D). Mature Audience Only: This program specifically designed to be viewed by adults and therefore may be unsuitable for children under 17. This program contains one or more of the following: graphic violence (V), explicit sexual activity (S) or crude indecent language (L). Additional Information: Content Descriptors Content Descriptors provide additional information about the content of TV shows and are sometimes added to the program ratings: violence [V], fantasy violence [FV], sexual situations [S], coarse language [L] and suggestive dialogue [D]. One or more letters may be added below the age-based audience label. 3

5 CHAPTER TWO: MANAGE YOUR TV LINEUP The TV program ratings provide a good starting point for parents who making TV viewing decisions for their families. However, the ratings aren t the only way parents can monitor and control what their children see. In fact, a recent survey shows that parents use a variety of measures to enforce their family s television viewing rules and monitor what their children watch: 57 percent of parents do not allow televisions in their children s bedrooms 75 percent of parents only allow TV viewing in rooms where they can easily see and hear what being watched. 67 percent of parents place specific time limits the amount of TV their children watch. 62 percent for of parents only allow TV viewing during certain hours of the day. 57 percent of parents monitor what their children watch by sitting with them as they watch TV. New technologies are additional resources for managing your children s access to appropriate content. DVDs and DVRs allow parents to proactively choose appropriate programming for their kids while steering clear of questionable content. Whether you are using the program ratings, watching with your kids or employing technology, actively monitoring what your children watch will help you feel more in control of what displayed your television screen. 4

6 CHAPTER THREE: USE TECHNOLOGY TO ENFORCE YOUR DECISIONS In addition to approaches such as television time limits and using DVDs, you can always use blocking technologies to enforce your decisions. Blocking technologies serve as filters for your television, blocking unwanted content from being viewed on your television screen. It is simple to activate these controls on your TV. The tools differ slightly depending whether you have broadcast TV, analog cable, digital cable or satellite TV service. The good news is, virtually everyone has some level of easy control at their disposal to automatically control the TV content allowed in their home: Over 180 million TV sets equipped with the V-Chip have been sold for the 110 million TV for viewing households since percent of TV households get TV from cable and satellite providers that include parental control options. offers two easy tutorials to help walk you through setting your blocking technologies. These tutorials are Easy as Toast and Safe TV, both of which can be found on the website, Easy instruc- tions to set the blocking technology that best suited for your household are also listed below. The V-Chip One of the most available blocking technologies the V-Chip, which is a tool that enables parents for to automatically block programs by TV ratings. The V-Chip is a standard feature in all TVs 13 and larger, built after January To set the V-Chip, simply press the menu on your remote control, select V-Chip (or parental controls, smart lock, ect) and follow the onscreen prompts. The V-Chip works based on the TV ratings system that you learned about in Chapter One. The TV ratings work top down, so, for example, if you want to allow shows rated TV-PG and below, select TV-PG. Everything above this rating, TV-14 and TV-MA, will be blocked. 5

7 Analog Cable In addition to parental controls such as the V-Chip, standard cable customers with a set-top box are able to block unwanted channels. If you have a set-top box, you ll find parental controls in your cable settings menu. Typically, you must set a PIN, select the ratings, channels and/or times you want blocked and turn the parental controls on. If you don t have a set-top box, you can ask your cable company to block a channel for you. For specific instructions, contact your cable or satellite provider. Digital Cable If you have digital cable, you do not need to set and activate your television s V-Chip. Under your menu options you can block and restrict content by channel, TV rating, MPAA movie ratings, time and individual programs. Some options even allow you to control how long your kids can watch. The steps for setting parental controls may vary from provider to provider. Most providers will walk you through the process with on-screen prompts. To learn more about the steps specific to your service, you can contact your local cable provider. Satellite Satellite companies also let you block by channels, MPAA movie ratings and time. On the settings menu, you typically select profiles and then decide whether you want to block by MPAA rating, user or hours. Easy on-screen instructions will show you how to use these parental controls. Understanding and using blocking technologies may seem confusing or a hassle at first, but is actually quite simple. It only takes a few minutes to set up and recalling how to use the tools is easy to remember. Using blocking technologies is almost like riding a bike once you have it down, it s nearly impossible to forget how to do it. 6

8 CONCLUSION Whether you are learning the basics for the first time or just brushing up, understanding how to effectively manage and control what your family watches will make watching television less stressful and more enjoyable for everyone. While tools like the program ratings, blocking technologies and DVRs may seem overwhelming at first, they are actually quite easy to use. The more frequently you use them, the more empowered you will become when making television viewing decisions, thus allowing you to control what your family watches with ease. For more tips making TV content decisions for your family, visit today 7

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