After two years abroad in Ecuador, I have returned back to the United States where I find TV once again is such a large part of our culture. Did you know? Children under the age of six watch an average of two hours a day (Moses, 2006). The average child watches three to four hours of TV a day (Statistical Abstracts, 2013). This number does not include video games and other forms of screen time. By age eight, 71 percent of children not only live in a home with three televisions but also had a TV in their bedroom, which added an additional hour of viewing (Trelease, 2013). According to this research, this rate increases as a child grows.
We know that too much TV is not good for kids. We know TV can have many harmful affects on a child’s life. Excessive TV viewing decreases physical activity, develops unhealthy eating habits, lowers school performance, causes sleep deprivation, adds to the risk of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder or ADHD and when exposed to violent TV shows, increases aggressive behavior in children (Borzekowski & Robinson, 2005; Owens et al.,1999; Christakis, Zimmerman, DiGiuseppe, & McCarty, 2004).
However, there is also much research to support the educational value of TV. The TV is a well-loved object (Linebarger 2010). And when I say TV in this day and age, that may mean watching shows/movies on an ipad, phone, car DVD player, streaming device and on computer, along with regular programming from a cable network. After reading many research studies I have created some guidelines for the TV that hopefully can help you and other families.
A few years ago and after researching a ton on this topic that ended up actually leading to my doctoral dissertation I created some guidelines for parents (and even educators!)...
Dr. Brooke’s Guidelines for the TV:
It is your and your family’s decision to obviously follow these guidelines or do away with TV altogether. I know many families who have a rule of no TV or screen time during the school week, while other families limit their child to one show after school. My rule of thumb is that if it’s affecting a child’s learning it is definitely time to rethink and create a new plan. I hope you find these guidelines helpful. I call them guidelines, because once again you are your child’s first and most important teacher. Best wishes in creating a home that supports and fosters a healthy life and a love for learning.