CMCH Suggestions: Use DVRs and VCRs

What are DVRs?

For years, VCRs have allowed us to record television for later viewing.  Digital Video Recorders (DVRs) are relatively new electronic devices that are becoming quite popular and, in many cases, replacing people’s use of VCRs. 

Whereas VCRs require videotapes, DVRs record onto a hard drive.  VCRs and DVRs both allow pausing, rewinding, and fast-forwarding of any recorded shows. Because DVRs are constantly recording, users can also pause or rewind live TV. 

Many DVRs require a service provider (such as TiVo) that will connect the DVR to the Internet, allowing the DVR user to take advantage of many features VCRs do not have.  For example, many DVR services offer the option to get a “season pass” which automatically records all episodes of a program regardless of when or on what channel they are aired.  Because of the monthly fee charged for use of these services, owning or renting a DVR might be too costly for many families.


How can I use these devices to help my children use media safely?

VCRs and DVRs offer parents two opportunities to mediate their children’s viewing: recording shows and skipping commercials.

Once parents find TV shows that they think are good for their children, they can record these shows and make them available at any time. For younger children, this means that even though most good quality educational television is only aired at certain times of they day, parents can record these shows so their children can watch them on their own schedules.

Additionally, older children and teens no longer need to change their social schedules, meal times, homework times, or bedtimes to watch their favorite shows; the shows are available when they have the free time to watch them. Therefore, these technologies may actually help young people include television viewing into their lives in a healthier way.

Along with planning television around their own schedules, young people can also use VCRs and DVRs to guide their own viewing. Instead of sitting and “channel surfing”, they can choose programs they have already recorded. At the end of a recorded show, the DVR stops and the viewer must choose what to watch next. This interruption can help parents end long TV sessions..

Another way for parents to help their children use media safely is to fast-forward through commercials. Research has shown that when children are exposed to advertisements for high fat and calorie foods, they are more likely to make unhealthy food choices. Therefore, skipping those kinds of commercials might reduce the effects of television on children’s obesity.


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