Tuesday, March 18, 2008

The problems with a TV in a child's bedroom

A New York Times article written by Tara Parker-Pope has warned of the problems associated with children having a TV in their bedrooms. Key details from the article include:

• Estimates on how many American children have TVs in their bedrooms vary from 50-70%.
• There is a growing body of evidence to suggest strong associations between excessive TV viewing and numerous health problems (e.g. obesity, smoking etc).
• One study found that a TV in the bedroom increased viewing time by almost nine hours per week (increasing to 30 hours).

A leading professor of paediatrics, Leonard H. Epstein, commented that: “If it’s in the bedroom, the parents don’t even really know what the kids are watching.

Reasons for the negative impact of TV in the bedroom?

The reasons for the impact of TV in the bedroom are still being investigated but the article points to the distraction that they cause from sleep, homework, reading etc.

However, I suspect that the reasons are more subtle than this and could include:

* reduction in the amount of family interaction time (which we know is invaluable);
* reduced physical activity outside the home;
* reduced language interaction with other children and adults (the latter is critical for language development in the preschool years);
* negative impacts on relations with parents and the associated levels of support that parents give.

In other words, I suspect that it is the impact on family relations and use of time that are the critical factors leading to the negative impact of TV in children's bedroom. There will of course be other impacts such as problems caused by uncontrolled viewing of varied television content without discussion and advice from other trusted adults. TV can be a valuable way in which parents build common ground with their children, it should not lead to alienation from them. If it does, then we can expect negative impacts and should do something about it.

Click here to read the full article from the New York Times article

Read my previous posts on problems with TV here and the need for better televison here


Rae Pica said...

I blogged about this article myself, Trevor, as it's such an important issue! I only hope parents pay this study more heed than most have paid to the AAP's recommendation that children under 2 have no screen time.

For more information, including ideas for TV-free alternatives, parents can go to www.tvturnoff.org.

Trevor Cairney said...

Hi Rae, thanks for the comment - the AAP's recommendation is an impossible dream but it would be a positive thing for many children. I also share your concerns for too much formal and structured learning for preschoolers. I've checked out your website and blog and both are excellent, I'll do something on your work when I get the chance. Seems like we have some common early childhood interests.

Surfer Jay said...

I knew a kid once who's only parent was always at work, so he was always home alone. He had every movie channel available to him in his bedroom from the time he could crawl. His mastery of the English guttermouth language was remarkable. I can only imagine what lingering effects this had on his personality.

Considering the extent of our current state of media infestation, I find this topic to be too important to not educate myself about it. Especially because I am having a baby soon. I was wondering if you could recommend any books on this topic, or similiar subjects? Thanks!