Tips to Make Watching TV a Learning Experience

Whether your kid is in preschool or high school, a bit of tube time can actually be educational. Here are some questions to ask kids – by age group – about the TV shows they watch.


Keep your kids talking – and, more importantly, thinking! – long after you’ve turned off Nickelodeon, Disney, or other kid-friendly shows with these age-appropriate questions to ask kids about the TV programs they watch.

Wondering how to make watching educational TV shows for kids even more of a learning experience? Learn about the benefits of watching television as a family.

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Under age 2

For little kids, the American Academy of Pediatrics used to recommend no screens before 2 years old– but not anymore. As of 2016, the new guidelines state, “Some media can have educational value for children starting at around 18 months of age, but it’s critically important that this be high-quality programming.”

For kids under 18 months, the AAP recommends no screen media, but video chatting is fine. For kids 18-24 months old, it’s all about parents seeking out that high-quality programming and using it as teachable, quality time.

Still, it emphasizes parents should, “prioritize creative, unplugged playtime for infants and toddlers.”

Preschoolers, ages 2-3

Have fun with your child going through what he’s seeing and hearing during a TV show. Ask:

  • Do you remember the song from the show?
  • What was the character doing? Or holding?
  • What was your favorite part of the show?

Grade schoolers, ages 5-8

Build on the learning concepts in television shows for grade schoolers by encouraging them to see how things compare to their own experiences. Ask:

  • If you were one of the characters on the show, which one would you be?
  • Who is your favorite character on the show and why?
  • What could happen in real life from the show and what’s unrealistic?

Tweens, ages 9-12

Shows for tweens tend to have more plot developments that are driven directly by the characters’ actions. Ask:

  • Was there a problem the characters were trying to solve?
  • How did the characters solve that problem?
  • Have you ever had problems like the character in the show? How did you solve them?

Teens, ages 13 and up

For teens, shows often include characters that are testing the boundaries of what’s acceptable. Have an open conversation with your teen about your values and expectations for his or her behavior by discussing what’s happening on the show. Ask:

  • Have any of your friends ever been in a situation like that?
  • What kind of advice would you give a friend that was going through that situation?
  • What would you do in that situation?

Learn how to cutback on screen time in your house with these tips.

Did you try using these tips and questions to talk to your child about a TV program you watched together? Were these tips helpful? Tell us in the comments!

This post was originally published in 2013 and has been updated for 2016.

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