Most kids plug into the world of television long before they enter school.
- two-thirds of infants and toddlers watch a screen an average of 2 hours a day
- kids under age 6 watch an average of about 2 hours of screen media a day, primarily TV and videos or DVDs
- kids and teens 8 to 18 years spend nearly 4 hours a day in front of a TV screen and almost 2 additional hours on the computer (outside of schoolwork) and playing video games
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that kids under 2 years old not watch any TV and that those older than 2 watch no more than 1 to 2 hours a day of quality programming.
The first 2 years of life are considered a critical time for brain development. TV and other electronic media can get in the way of exploring, playing, and interacting with parents and others, which encourages learning and healthy physical and social development.
As kids get older, too much screen time can interfere with activities such as being physically active, reading, doing homework, playing with friends, and spending time with family.
Of course, TV in moderation can be a good thing: Preschoolers can get help learning the alphabet on public television, grade schoolers can learn about wildlife on nature shows, and parents can keep up with current events on the evening news. No doubt about it — TV can be an excellent educator and entertainer.
But despite its advantages, too much television can be detrimental:
- Children who consistently spend more than 4 hours per day watching TV are more likely to be overweight.
- Kids who view violent acts are more likely to show aggressive behavior but also fear that the world is scary and that something bad will happen to them.
- TV characters often depict risky behaviors, such as smoking and drinking, and also reinforce gender-role and racial stereotypes.
Children’s advocates are divided when it comes to solutions. Although many urge for more hours per week of educational programming, others assert that zero TV is the best solution. And some say it’s better for parents to control the use of TV and to teach kids that it’s for occasional entertainment, not for constant escapism.
That’s why it’s so important for you to monitor the content of TV programming and set viewing limits to ensure that your kids don’t spend too much time parked in front of the TV