Limiting Kids' TV-Watching Time
Because it uses both visual and audio stimulation, television is a particularly powerful draw for young audiences. Though TV does have some educational value, there is strong evidence of its drawbacks.
Children’s Overall Health
The amount of time children spend watching television programs has been linked to negative effects on their health.
- Obesity and Diabetes: Researchers have shown that watching TV, and the low level of energy expended while so engaged (which might otherwise have been replaced by physical activities), has been linked to America’s growing epidemic of obesity and diabetes.
- In their groundbreaking 1985 study, “Do We Fatten Our Children at the Television Set? Obesity and Television Viewing in Children and Adolescents,” W.H. Dietz and S.L. Gortmaker state that, “Obesity is greater among children and adolescents who frequently watch television.” Studies further link the amount of television that a child views with his likelihood to consume the high calorie foods advertised, thus aggravating the situation.
- Noise: The National Institute of Public Health states that noise affects children’s health adversely, with hearing damage and ear ringing being the most serious consequences. Noise exposure has also been linked to physiological changes in blood pressure, digestion, sleep, and other stress-related disorders.
- Sleep: Scary television shows or movies at bedtime have been linked to nightmares during REM (rapid eye movement) sleep, or the “dreaming stage” of sleep. Having a television in the child’s bedroom aggravates a child’s propensity for having TV-related sleep problems, ranging from the child’s temptation to turn on the set instead of sleeping, to watching inappropriate shows without parental supervision, to developing a dependence on viewing and using the set as a sleep aid.
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