Studies indicate excessive television may increase aggression, anxiety and withdrawal from society in children
How Many Hours Does the Average Child Watch TV?
by Kristie Sweet, Demand Media
Children may spend an average of seven hours daily using entertainment media like televisions.
In 1966, television producer Joan Cooney heard someone at a party bemoan the effect television was having on his daughter, who would sit for hours watching the test patterns. That conversation eventually prompted Cooney to develop the children's program "Sesame Street." Years later, parents still worry about the dangers of letting their children watch TV. How much do modern children watch?
According to Nielsen statistics for 2011, teenagers ages 12 to 17 spend about 100 hours watching television each month. Children between the ages of two and 11 watch even more TV, an average of 109 hours and six minutes each month. Although these numbers may seem high, they do indicate a reduction from the previous year when teens clocked 105 monthly hours and younger children viewed 112 hours and 46 minutes of television each month.
When DVD, DVR, video and game console viewing is added to the mix, the numbers clearly rise. A University of Michigan study found children ages six to 11 used televisions for about 28 hours each week for such activities. But preschoolers spend even more time engaged in videos and gaming - 32 hours each week. These numbers indicate elementary-aged children use videos and games for about seven hours each month, while those under six spend about 16 hours during the month on these actions.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, children over the age of two should watch television for only one or two hours per day, about half the current average. Higher amounts of television use can lead to problems concentrating, obesity, eating disorders and sleeping difficulties. Some studies also indicate excessive television may increase aggression, anxiety and withdrawal from society. Children might even mimic behaviors that demonstrate gender and racial bias, or risky activities such as smoking and drinking and promiscuity.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends parents avoid television entirely for children under the age of two in order to avoid negative impact on the fast-paced brain development during this stage. Parents can cut down the amount of TV for older children by engaging them in other activities such as reading, sports and outdoor play, and by removing televisions from children's bedrooms. Setting aside rooms in the house as television-free zones - or certain times as TV-free periods - can reduce TV's negative effects.
About the Author
Kristie Sweet has been writing professionally since 1982, most recently publishing for various websites on topics like health and wellness, and education. She holds a Master of Arts in English from the University of Northern Colorado.
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