Babies Online - The Blog

On TV and Children

I had lunch with a group of ladies the other day. We were a multicultural bunch, coming from different countries and cultures from the US, UK, Canada, Germany, and Asia. We had several things in common though we all spoke English, we were all expats in Switzerland, and we were all moms of kids ranging in age one-and-half and five years old.

Somehow the discussion turned towards TV and I was surprised to hear how diverse our opinions and practices are in terms of TV times. To make a long story short, some moms think 1 to 2 hours of TV time per day for preschoolers are OK while 1 mom advocates total abstinence. I am sort of in the middle of the road, my 5-year old twins spend on the average, 20 minutes a day in front of the TV.

We all have our reasons to justify our TV policies at home. Mine is pure and simple: I’d rather that my kids move than sit quietly the whole day.

A review in the New York Times cited several studies showing the not-so-beneficial effect of the presence of TV in the bedroom of children of all ages, as follows:

  • Kids with TVs in their own bedrooms have an average viewing time of 21 to 30 hours a week.
  • Kids who have TVs in their bedrooms normally have lower scores on school tests and are more likely to have sleeping problems.
  • 70 % of the children with bedroom TV consistently performed poorly in maths, reading and language-arts tests.
  • Preschoolers with bedroom TVs are more likely to be overweight, most especially the boys.
  • Kindergarten kids with bedroom TVs tend to have more sleep problems and less “emotionally reactive”.
  • Middle-school students (12 to 14 years old) with bedroom TVs are twice as likely to start smoking.

The mechanisms behind the impact of TV on children’s health and school performance are not well-understood. However, distraction during homework time and disturbed sleep are direct effects of TV that result in poorer performance at school. More disturbing, however, is the fact that the presence of a TV in a child’s bedroom can suggest less than optimal parental involvement with the child. The NYT article estimates that half of the children in the US have their own TV sets in their bedrooms.

One of the ladies in our luncheon group declared she deserves some rest, even if only for an hour, and TV at the midday in the kid’s room gives her a well-needed break from her toddler and preschooler. I can see her point. Indeed, motherhood can be pretty challenging and we moms need a break to recharge. But this does not justify using the TV as a babysitter. It will tend to become habit-forming for mom as well as for the kids.

So how do I keep my kids busy with resorting to TV? They draw, they read, they play, they cut pieces of paper and literally turn the house upside down. And when do I get my break? I don’t. I simply put them to bed early, clean up, and have my well-deserved rest at night.

How about you? What are your house rules regarding TV?

Related posts:

Kill your TV?.maybe

TV is the Enemy


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[…] If you’re new here, you may want to subscribe to our RSS feed. Thanks for visiting!I started my daughter out on computer games very early.  She had a huge affection  for all things Elmo, so once I discovered the online Elmo games I was pleased to share them with her.  It’s no surprise that now at five years old she can navigate most websites designed for kids and she’s a big fan of spending some quiet time on the computer.  Although I do limit how much time she spends on there, most of the time I would rather she… Read more »
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8 years 22 hours ago

language of babies…

Guest
Lauren
8 years 1 month ago

I have a 20 montth old and I feel a baby einstein or barney (1/2 hour or so) DVD once or twice a day is fine, however my child will not have TV in his room until high school, or never if I can help it.

Guest
Beth
8 years 1 month ago
On some level, I agree with most all opinons and understand where people are coming from. My son used to have a tv in his room and I removed it because he knew how to work it and would watch it constantly while he was playing (no cable, just movies) I realized it probably wasn’t good for him to be watching as much as he was. He is 4 1/2 now and has homework 3 times a week from pre-K and he loves to do worksheets when he doesn’t have regular homework. So between homework, neighbor kids, swimming and all… Read more »
Guest
PM
8 years 1 month ago
TV depends on what you watch TV isnt evil, I had a TV in my room since I was little and my mom got me used to watching the news at night so I knew what was going on in the world when I was 9 in fact in one class a teacher made us write a news per day in a notebook and one day was newspaper other day from the TV i think that kids should know what is going on around them and that there is a world out there, so they dont grow up being selfish… Read more »
Member
8 years 1 month ago

NO TV whatsoever for Mina while she’s under two. Then, I don’t know, very minimal TV. We didn’t have cable for as long as we were married. I agree, TV shouldn’t be used as a babysitter. If that parent needs a break from her kids, she should at least remove the TV from the bedroom. There’s no reason for it to be there given the negatives.

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