Wonder why your children like to spend hours watching television every single day? If you have a habit of watching television, your children will develop the same habit, a new study says. In fact, how much time you watch television determines how much your child will watch television more so than your child’s access, including having a TV in his or her room, as well as parental guidelines on TV watching and demographics.
The study appeared online in the journal Pediatrics on July 15th, authored by Amy Bleakley, PhD, MPH, Amy B. Jordan, PhD and Michael Hennessy, PhD, MPH from the Annenberg Public Policy Center, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia.
Researchers used an online survey of 1,550 parents of children aged 0-17 as well as 629 teenagers whose parents were also participating.
We know that children learn behavior from what they observe in their worlds. In this case, researchers found because of that kids will watch TV if their parents do. But it also found that for most of the families interviewed, TV watching is a routine family activity.
The authors recommend that parents be good role models, and limit their own television watching if they want their children to do the same.
“Educating parents about the relationship between their own viewing and their child’s viewing by helping them to become aware of the time they spend watching television may be a useful approach,” the authors wrote.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends children 0-2 don’t watch any children, and that older children limit TV watching to less than two hours a day. For babies, evidence suggests that watching television hinders their language development, reading skills and short term memory. The AAP says it also causes problems with attention and sleep.
For toddlers and older children, watching television should be limited to two hours a day. Educational programming is best and can be an effective learning tool. Television also has an excellent ability to influence your child, good or bad.
It’s also important to remember that when children are sitting in front of a TV they’re not outside getting exercise, developing their vocabulary and language by reading, being creative, or playing.