Television plays an important role in the lives of children, and for some a larger role than that of parents and schools. There are many educational, social, and recreational benefits gained from viewing television for persons of all ages. Detrimental effects, however, are also possible, especially if the viewer lacks the knowledge or emotional maturity to place a program in its proper perspective. Debate has centered on whose responsibility it is to provide children with this understanding and perspective, so that television's benefits outweigh its detriments. This article reviews current research on the amount of television viewing by children, their reasons for doing so, and their understanding of what they see on television. The relationship is discussed between this understanding and the positive and negative effects of certain types of programs and advertisements. Suggestions for educational interventions by parents and teachers are provided.