Did you know that in some cases, watching television might actually be good for you? Yes, it is filled with programs that bombard us with unhealthy messages and stereotypes. And yes, there’s no denying that these messages can have a negative impact on our thoughts, attitudes and choices. (If you’ve read any of my previous articles, you will have noticed that I’ve raised caution about media use).

But, you may be surprised to find that at the same time, TV watching actually has the potential to do these three things:

We didn’t go in for the first doctor’s visit and sonogram until I was 8 weeks along. We were excited and anxious to get a glimpse of our baby and hear its rapidly beating heart. The tech was silent as she performed the sonogram. We watched the image of the baby on the screen, waiting for her to speak. I finally asked “Is anything wrong?” She said the baby’s heart wasn’t beating and it looked like it had stopped growing a few days before our appointment.

I was blindsided. It was all so surreal. We just went through the motions at that appointment, shocked that the baby that had been making me so sick, that had been pulsing in my tummy, was no longer alive.

A recent Sony media scandal (the studio’s emails were hacked and made public) showed that actresses Jennifer Lawrence and Amy Adams were paid less than their male co-stars in American Hustle. Since then, more people’s eyes have been opened to the gender inequalities that still exist in the media today. It is concerning and a bit mind-boggling that in 2015 there are still many places where the media needs to adjust their inclusivity of women.

The following will draw your attention to three places, showing why we need to see more women in movies and on television, in behind-the-scenes jobs, and cast in a wider range of occupations. Be prepared for some alarming statistics on gender inequality in the film and television idustry.

Health care reform, abortion, immigration, US involvement in the Middle East, changes to marriage laws and religious freedoms.

These are examples of highly emotional issues that have been on the public agenda in America these past few years. It’s likely that you have an opinion on most of these topics. Some of your opinions may be stronger than others because the issue is more important to you.

Do you feel comfortable openly expressing your views on these issues? Or, do you remain silent when these topics are brought up and keep your opinions to yourself? If you fall into the second camp, are you looking for a way to find your voice when faced by opposition?

Gossip. Spreading rumors. Name calling. Criticizing. Cruel teasing. Intentionally excluding someone. Breaking confidences. Eye-rolling. Manipulation.

These are all forms of relational aggression that the majority of women have been a recipient of and/or have engaged in at some point. As you read this, has an experience of relational aggression from your own life come to mind? Amazing how those instances stick with you, isn’t it? I still feel a pang of embarrassment and disappointment with myself over harshly criticizing a girl in the 6th grade! And, I can clearly remember every instance throughout my life when I found out that another girl or woman had been gossiping about me or purposely excluding me from their social circle.

“The most important thing we’ve learned as far as children are concerned is never, never let them near the television set. Or better still just don’t install the idiotic thing at all. It rots the senses in their head. It keeps imagination dead. It clogs and clutters up the mind. It makes a child so dull and blind” the Oompa Loompas energetically sing in the 2005 movie Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

Though this song is just part of a silly scene from a movie, not a serious attack on television, its message is one we’ve probably heard before – that TV is bad for children. And though there is definitely some truth to those lyrics – there are a lot of messages on television that we shouldn’t expose kids to – good messages can also be found. This is important to know as on average kids ages 8 to 18 spend a whopping 4 ½ hours watching TV shows each day via the TV, cell phones, tablets and/or computers.

Fortunately, there are ways to help protect your children (or your nieces and nephews, siblings, kids you’re babysitting, etc.) from TV’s negative messages and enhance its positive impact.