Too much TV? Switch it off!

By Drum Digital
30 July 2014

It can harm your child if the TV is on continuously – even if only in the background. A recent study by American researchers at the University of Iowa found it’s especially harmful during children’s play-and-learn phase.

Researchers found a TV that’s on in the background when children are involved in a game or activity distracts them from playing and learning.

The researchers studied a group of 1 150 American families with children aged two to eight. They looked at family demographics, parenting styles and the use of media, and the effect these factors had on the children’s future success. The study also found noneducational programmes have a negative effect on children’s cognitive development.

In a 2012 study Professor Linebarger and a group of researchers found American children are exposed to on average of four hours of background TV a day.

Tips for watching TV

  • Maintain perspective. TV isn’t all bad – there are fantastic educational and entertainment programmes. Just make sure your family’s life isn’t ruled by the TV.
  • Don’t shy away from limiting your children’s viewing time. Decide what works for you: weekends only or only a certain number of hours a day. Discuss things such as programme choice with your children and find a compromise that works for everyone.
  • Switch on the TV for specific programmes – watch at least one episode with your kids to check the content – and then off once the programme is over.
  • Set an example for your children with your own viewing habits. Choose specific programmes you watch regularly rather than channel hopping to see what’s on.
  • Don’t use the TV as reward or punishment by for instance increasing or decreasing TV time, depending on your child’s conduct. This gives the TV too much importance.
  • It’s sometimes good for children to feel bored. It teaches them to find something to do or to use their imagination to play a game. Don’t tell them to see what’s on TV the moment they say they’re bored.

Watch an interview with chief researcher Professor Deborah Linebarger about the study here:

-Suzaan Hauman


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