Health Briefs

Health Briefs

Television Viewing Time and Children – How Bad Is it?

Pediatricians and parents have long been discussing how much time a child should spend in front of the TV watching programs. Most agree that TV time should be limited based on the child’s age. But there are some who link bad behavior to watching too much on the tube and what they watch on the tube. So what is true what is not true?

Young Kids and TV Time

Children’s television viewing should be monitored for time and content by parents. One to three hours per day is all a young child under the age of 7 should watch as other activities help children grow in other ways. Social interaction with other kids is necessary as it spending more time with parents and siblings. The more time a child spends watching TV the less time they are putting into homework and physical activities. American pediatricians recommend that kids should watch no more than two hours of educational, non-violent programming on television. If kids watch more, the doctors feel their attention spans will be shorter by the age of seven and are prone to be more anti-social. In fact, it is not television which influences children to act up, pick fights and bother other kids. It is lack of good parental attention.

Parents Must Rule the Television

Parents should be aware of how much television their kids watch and what they are viewing. Young children especially need guidance and should spend more time with friends and siblings and learn how to be social and get along with others. This is a vulnerable time in their lives where these important lessons will help them learn how to interact with different people. If kids like to watch TV and play video games, find appropriate content for them. But most studies on the effects of television viewing, video game playing and children suggests that it really is not how much time they spend watching and playing, but the lack of time they are not spending socializing, doing homework or being active.

Guidelines and Facts

• Children under two should not have any screen time.
• Children over age 2 should be limited to 2 hours per day.
• Videos geared toward younger children that tout improving development actually does not do a thing for it.
• Do not put TVs in a child’s room.
• Encourage children of all ages to go outside and play. Join them in it.
• Children that sit in front of a TV or computer have a better chance of being overweight as they are more likely to eat and eat non-healthy foods.
• Turn the TV on only when there is a program the child wants to watch. Turn it off when the show is over.
• Turn the TV off during family meals.

The Family Unit

Families as a whole should spend more time doing things together like riding bikes, going for a walk or playing a game of ball in the yard, if there is one. Parents who are active themselves are good role models for their children. A limited amount of time in front of the TV, computer or game console is better overall for a child’s mental and physical well-being. And when the family can spend time together doing something fun and active, everyone gains from it. Health Briefs thinks TV should be a temporary respite from the hectic world we live in, and for children it should be something to expand their minds or imagination. When kids are glued to the tube they can feel like the characters on the program are their friends. They may become depressed and feel isolated and lonely when they realize they have very few real friends. Children of all ages, and especially those who are under the age of 7, need to keep moving and making friends. This is what makes us rich. Tell us what you do.

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