Both content and time spent on television can affect
children's mental health.
Effects of Children Watching Too Much Television ---Behavioral, sleep and attention difficulties
Consistent, heavy television viewing (more than two hours a day) throughout early childhood can contribute to behavioral, sleep and attention difficulties.
Clinical Study of Children and Television at 2 1/2 and 5 1/2 Years of Age
In the study, "Children's Television Exposure and Behavioral and Social Outcomes at 5 1/2 Years: Does Timing of Exposure Matter?" researchers assessed data from the "Healthy Steps for Young Children" national evaluation effort pertaining to the effects of early, concurrent and sustained television exposure at age 2 1/2 years, and again at age 5 1/2 years.
The effects of having a television in the child's bedroom were measured at age 5 1/2. Sixteen percent of parents reported that their child watched television more than two hours a day at age 2 1/2 years only (early exposure), 15 percent reported that their children watched more than two hours of television daily at 5 1/2 years only (concurrent exposure), and 20 percent reported more than two hours of television viewing daily at both times (sustained exposure). Forty-one percent of children had a television in their bedroom at age 5 1/2.
Sleep, Attention, Behavioral Problems from Television for Young Children
Sustained television viewing was associated with sleep, attention and aggressive behavior problems, and externalizing of problem behaviors. Concurrent television exposure was associated with fewer social skills. Having a television in the bedroom was associated with sleep problems and less emotional reactivity at age 5 1/2. Early exposure to television for more than two hours a day, which decreased over time, did not cause behavior or social problems.
American Academy of Pediatricians Recommends No Television Under Two Years Old
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends no television viewing for children under age 2, and no more than two hours of daily media exposure for ages 2 and older.
Positive Effects of Cutting Back on Television and Video Games for Nine-Year-Old
Excessive television does impact a child's later and present probability to develop symptoms of ADHD
. Cutting back on TV or doing without during the week is one step some parents have implemented successfully.
One nine-year-old boy who was manifesting symptoms of ADHD and struggling with math, one year behind his grade level, and who was probably going to be put on medication, was able to make the honor roll within nine months through parental efforts. They allowed television and video games
only on the weekends but not during the school week. His ADHD symptoms
disappeared, his abilities at math began to improve, and his C's and D's turned into A's and B's, to his father's delight (Oliver Street School, Newark, NJ, 2008-9).
Children benefit from outdoor activities, playing in the park, finding enjoyment in reading, engaging in creative activities such as artwork, and "open-ended playthings," rather than pre-packaged programming such as is typical of television.
Publications, Articles and Organizations Supportive of Less TV for Children
Television habits and sleep disturbance in children; other effects, television in bedroom
Pediatrics - Other References, Children and Television
Other Organizations Supporting Less TV Time for Children:
Adults and Children Act Against Violence Org - information on media violence and children
TV turnoff org
Conclusion of Child Psychology, Positive Parenting, Children and Television
Parents should follow the American Academy of Pediatricians' suggestion of no television for children under two years old and very limited and selective television programs for children over two years old.
Children who have behavioral or attention problems do better without television or with very limited television. Children who are struggling academically might benefit from watching no television during the school week or school months (this would include video games and movies). Some children get better grades with less television and less (or no) video games.
Children should not be allowed to watch violent television programs, including cartoons with violence. Parents should also monitor video game use to make sure their children are not playing violent games.
Parents should be diligent in providing other recreational opportunities and interests to children, such as coloring books, art, and outdoor activities.
Additionally, parents should educate their children as to the value of doing without violence in the media, and why they prefer their children not make violent media a major part of their entertainment.
Pages Related to Children and Television
Violent Video Game Effects
Television, Video Games and Media Violence
Children and Movies Effects
and tips, 24 Steps in Positive Parenting
Ideas to Develop Children's Interest in Art
Children and Breakfast
- Why Children Need a Good Breakfast