April 5, 2004

More Reasons Not to Watch TV

A recent study reinforces what many parents already know - TV is not good for young children. Here are some of the highlights found in this article :

"Very young children who watch television face an increased risk of attention deficit problems by school age, a study has found, suggesting that TV might overstimulate and permanently 'rewire' the developing brain.

For every hour of television watched daily, two groups of children - aged 1 and 3 - faced a 10 percent increased risk of having attention problems at age 7.

The findings bolster previous research showing that television can shorten attention spans and support American Academy of Pediatrics recommendations that youngsters under age 2 not watch television.

'The truth is there are lots of reasons for children not to watch television. Other studies have shown it to be associated with obesity and aggressiveness' too, said lead author Dr. Dimitri Christakis, a researcher at Children's Hospital and Regional Medical Center in Seattle."

While not a purist by any nature we have limited the amount of TV our children watch substantially. As many know we have been a TV (cable and network) free house for the entirety of our marriage (almost 7 years) and I have been TV free for an additional 4 years.
So that does eliminate many of my problems with TV (content, advertising, value system and so on) however we do allow the children to watch pre-selected videos.

We did try very hard to not have them watch much TV before they were 2. We were pretty successful with Rhiannon in this area - Ciaran was exposed to more as his sister watched it. But we still did pretty good. We do allow them to watch about 5 hours of videos(often educational) a week - less in the spring and summer. But after reading this piece I may even cut back.

Periodically we go completely video free for a week at a time. You can read more about our last motivation for video free time in my Banning TV post.

The reality still remains that most often when I allow the kids to watch a video it is for my convenience and not to benefit them. Now with the nice weather it is just as convenient to encourage them to play in our yard and I find the benefits far better than the benefits of TV. Other than a muddy yard and pea gravel in my house to clean up there are no disadvantages to them being outside.

Next time you are tempted to turn the TV on try encouraging outdoor play instead or pick up a book and read it to them. Even as I type this Ciaran came up and asked me to watch a movie - I said no you may play outside. He said "I want to watch a movie" and again I said "No. Go get ready to play outside. " He said okay and trotted off to his room to get ready. Guess we are heading out.


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