Television and Your Family: Who Controls the Remote Control?
Are you in control of the remote control, or are you far removed from your children’s viewing habits? Studies show that American children spend long hours in front of the television. Even 9-month-old babies view an average of 90 minutes of television per day, and preschoolers watch the TV almost four hours a day.
Experts say 1-year olds should watch just 30 minutes of TV a day.
Dorothy Singer, Co-Director Yale University Family Television Research and Consultation Center
By the time these children are 18, they’ve seen an average of seven years of television. According to the New York Academy of Medicine, “Children spend more time in front of the television than in school, and nearly as much time as they spend sleeping.”
What do children learn from all of this viewing? Television shows have a lot of violence, including cartoons for young children — some cartoons contain 70 to 130 violent acts per hour.
Studies show that children get the message — kids who watch more television violence are more aggressive than others their age.
Children who spend hours in front of the TV also have less imagination and creativity, poorer concentration, and lower grades in school. Advertising in children’s programming is also a problem, increasing children’s wants and desires. Meanwhile, TV watching reduces time for active play, resulting in more overweight children.
Special Challenges for Working Parents
Working parents are especially challenged by the lure of the TV in their family life. The television is a tempting babysitter for children left alone. In addition, it can be an attractive form of family entertainment for parents after a long day at work.
Statistics show that television viewing is the #1 leisure activity for adults. But is this a force you want to put in control of your time? A few strategies can help you take control of the remote control.
Children home alone while parents are at work need productive activities. This is a good time to get involved in homework, family chores, reading, hobbies, or active play. Help your child develop a list of things he or she can do that are productive and safe.
Copyright 2007 by Idaho Department of Health and Welfare
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