Television is an important factor in most children's lives. The average school-age child in the United States spends about five hours each day watching T.V. Parents often worry about their viewing habits, but most have a difficult time changing their children's television practices. There are some ways to affect the influence of television on children. Pre-School Children: Start early to develop good T.V. habits. Encourage planned viewing of specific programs. Allow for plenty of physical activity, make-believe games and development of early reading skills, too. Pre-school children have difficulty separating reality from fantasy. Help your child to understand that cartoon characters, actors with make-up, and many T.V. scenes are artificial sets and that illusions are created by computers and the camera. School-Age Children: Encourage planned watching or consider keeping a record of T.V. watching. Notice the time spent, type of programs watched and whether your child watches alone or with other people, as well as what other activities he or she has. Discuss favorite T.V. characters. What are their positive, as well as negative, traits. Discuss ideas or questions of values which are raised by television programs. T.V. shows often stereotype many groups---women, ethnic groups, old people, families. Discuss the prejudices these images encourage. Look for opinions in news or discussion porgrams. Discuss television advertising and the motives of the station or advertiser in showing T.V. ads. Point out the distortions, implications, special effects, background music, and the use of paid celebrities in T.V. ads. Watch television with your children. Know what they are learning. Remember that parental viewing habits often influence those of children. Consider a contract or television viewing agreement between you and your child. For example, he or she can watch specific programs only after the table is set or homework is done or they've played outside during the afternoon hours.