Watching TV Smartly, and Sanely, Over Holiday Break With Your Kids

With the upcoming school holiday break days away, let’s be realistic: TV sets are about to get a bit more use than usual. In fact, many will go into hyper drive as kids of all ages are home more and parents become distracted with holiday preparations and school week plans.

It’s always important to keep an eye on the clock when kids are home for extended periods of time and be sure that tube time doesn’t increase out of control. At the same time, whether a vacation week or any other time of the year, the core of TV viewing with kids is always content.

With they myriad of TV stations and shows on the air these days, finding good content for any age is a gigantic challenge. A new group has partnered with TIVO  to help you with this task in some very creative ways.

Called “Smart TV”, it’s a product of the “Smart TV Alliance” which is ” a coalition of national nonprofit organizations united by a shared commitment to improving what our nation’s children see on television.”

The mission of the group is to give parents the information they need to make informed, smart choices about programming for their kids and a way to pick those shows to save for later viewing from one interface.

It’s a really cool set-up!

From the Smart-TV recommendations page, you pick either the age of your child, the category of show (history, safe and fun, science, etc.), or channel, and you’ll be taken to a screen that has recommended shows with descriptions and ratings from the most trusted groups for media reviews online, such as Common Sense Media, Parents Television Council, Parents Choice Foundation, and others.

Here’s a screen shot of the choices you have for how to get to the recommendations you are seeking:

Let’s say you click on the “9-11” year old tab and decide  “Adventure Camp” is perfect for your child.  This is what the “Adventure Camp” summary would look like:

As you can see, you get a description, who rated it and a link to save the show to your TIVO without having to leave the Smart TV site. All shows on the Smart TV site will have a similar appearance and contain the same basic information that’s shown in this example.

Having the ability to download the show to your TIVO from the Smart TV site is very useful  so you can continue hunting for other shows to save for later viewing for that child or other children in your family, or for family movie night.

If you don’t have a TIVO and are interested in purchasing one, Smart TV has worked out a discount of 10% that you can access here.

Finally, Smart TV is interested in learning what you watch and why you find it educational for your family. They’ve created a fun sweepstakes around this idea that is running through December 24, 2009. By filling in the blanks of “the show that teaches my family a lot is ________” you automatically get entered to win some fun prizes just in time for the holidays, as well as helping Smart TV learn what shows you would be interested in having them post on the site. Click here to learn more.

The site is constantly growing and the team informed me that a robust amount of new shows is going to be added this week as well as some holiday week and show information.  BTW,  I don’t have any formal stake with the site…I’ve given them some informal advice so you can have the healthiest viewing experience possible but that’s it. So, shoot me an email and if there’s something Smart TV needs to know, I’ll pass it on.