- British children spend on average 5 hours and 20 minutes per day in front of screens of one sort or another (up from 4 hrs 40 minutes five years ago).
- Two thirds watch TV before school and 83 per cent turn it on when they get home.
- Fifty eight per cent watch television during their evening meal and almost two thirds of children do so in bed before going to sleep.
- Boys spend 2.7 hours a day watching TV and 1.9 hours on-line, while girls spend 2.6 hours watching TV but more time on the internet - 2.1 hours a day.
- 80% of children have a TV in their rooms.
- While 80% read books in their free time, only 53% do so at least once per week and 25% daily.
This is not a new topic, we have known for years that children probably watch too much television. What is interesting about this recent work is the added influence of computers and the way TV and computers are pervading so much of life. While ChildWise have been conducting this survey for 14 years new insights are being gained.
The most worrying aspect of the report is that it suggests that children seem to be doing more multitasking, watching TV while they eat, fall asleep, do homework, play video games, social networking online and so on. There is also a tendency to flick between channels (especially boys) to keep up with two simultaneous shows at once. While this might sound just like children imitating their parents, it is a worrying trend.
For me, the work raises more questions than answers, including:
What impact does such extensive TV and computer use have on reading (certainly, this research suggests that increased viewing may lead to a reduction in reading)?
What impact does it have on family time and parent child interaction?
What impact does TV and Internet use have on the whole child (e.g. emotional and physical health and development)?
An excellent site that addresses some of the latter issues is the Canadian Media Awareness Network (I'll do a post on this later). This won't be my last post on this topic.