Monday, May 31, 2010

Impact of TV Watching on Kids: Study

According to a study published in the May issues of the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine and the Archives of General Psychiatry explains that the American Academy of Pediatrics discourages any television watching for children before the age of 2 and recommends no more than two hours per day in older children.

This study looked at just over 1,300 fourth-graders and their exposure to television when they were ages 29 - 53 months and recognized associations between early television watching and adverse outcomes in later childhood.

This study, to me, does not come as a surprise as it is also in line with additional previous studies exploring this issue and topic.

According to the study, "more time spent in front of the TV before reaching kindergarten age appears to be associated with adverse effects on health, lifestyle, and academic performance later on, researchers found." And, that "each additional hour of TV viewing at age 29 months was associated with less classroom engagement and lower math scores in fourth grade, according to Linda Pagani, PhD, of the University of Montreal, and colleagues."

In this day and age children are spending much more time in front of the television, on computers, and playing video games, versus being more physically active to stay fit. The is further supported by the study saying that children who were exposed to these mediums do experience less healthy eating habits, higher body mass indexes and are less active.

The sooner our children are exposed to these mediums of entertainment the more and more they are going to want them as the year's progress.

I have previously written blogs about children and television on Mommy's Point of View and agree that there is indeed a necessary limit on how much screen time children should have. My husband and I have been doing our best to manage this early especially with our daughter. We agree that there is no real need for television especially during a child's first year. There were also no influences pushing interest to ask for it.

However, when my daughter Sarah was a year and a half and moved up to the next class at school they used television for two times in the day: when getting the classroom ready for lunch and nap time. After approach the school director about it, I was provided the opportunity to not have Sarah watch television during these times but then felt she would feel left out and remain in the classroom without her friends.

Therefore, competing with the television Sarah is exposed at school, and at friend's homes, has certainly made it tougher to say no to her when she asks for it.

However, I agree with the American Academy of Pediatrics that television watching should be limited. There are times in the day when Sarah asks for it, has been on her best behavior and we offer it to her as a treat. We also do make sure that Sarah eats a healthy diet, gets much physical activity and reads and plays often to invigorate her imagination.

As parents, we just have to continue to expose our children to a healthy and active lifestyle, where some television may be included, but not too much. Preventing our children from watching television I feel is not the answer when most children are surrounded by it. Instead, managing their time and what they do with it is much more effective.

Interestingly, the study did not look at the type of television watching with regards to the quality and content of the programs. For example, children who are exposed to age inappropriate television that many include violence, could very well be skewing the results of the study.

My husband and I do expose Sarah to educational television programs like Baby Can Read and Blue's Clues amongst others. There are times that Disney-type movies just win out as favorites and we just have to continue to help her to find a balance by being extremely active participants in her life and during playtime.

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