Background TV can hurt kids

Harold Mandel's picture
Kid watching TV
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Many homes have the TV on for long hours daily whether or not the kids are actually watching TV at any given time. New research shows that exposure to background TV can harm kids.

Researchers studied how parenting style, exposure to media, and cumulative risk were associated with executive functioning during the period of early childhood reported the journal Developmental Behavioral Pediatrics. The researchers studied a nationally representative group of US parents with 1 child between 2 and 8 years old. In a telephone survey parents were asked to report the exposure of their kids to television, music, and book reading via a 24-hour time diary.

Background television should be turned off when a child is in the room

It was observed that there is a complex pattern of associations between cumulative risk, parenting, and media exposure with executive functioning during the period of early childhood. The research findings have supported the recommendation of the American Academy of Pediatrics that background television should be turned off when a child is in the room. It has also been suggested that it may be beneficial to have exposure of kids to high-quality content across multiple media platforms.

Choose TV programs for kids which stimulate their interest in learning

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It appears that background TV may really be bad for children reports the University of Iowa. Parents are now being advised to turn off the television when their children are with them. When parents do allow their kids to watch TV they should make certain programs are chosen which stimulate their interest in learning.

Background television can divert a child’s attention away from play and learning

The researchers observed that background television can divert a child’s attention away from play and learning. Furthermore, it was also found that noneducational programs have the power to negatively affect children’s cognitive development. Deborah Linebarger, associate professor in education at the University of Iowa and the lead author on the study says that children are going to learn from whatever you place in front of them. You should therefore give careful consideration to the kinds of messages and other things you want them to learn. It is suggested to purposely expose kids to positive media.

Content of media kids are exposed may affect their executive function

There was a relationship found between the content of media kids are exposed to and their executive function. An increase in executive function was seen in kids whose families watched educational television. Therefore it appears good parenting can serve as a buffer against the negative impacts of background TV. Linebarger also says kids whose parents create a home environment which is loving and nurturing are better able to control their behavior, exhibit more empathy, and do better in school.

This is a very interesting study with some good advice for parents. However, following through with this advice may be difficult because as many parents are aware due to the addictive nature of TV and other media it appears kids often perceive of parents as being more loving and caring when they are lenient about such issues as how much time can be spent exposed to media. It would therefore be wise to always make certain there is as much exposure to educational media for kids as possible while working on the issue of how much time exposed to media is acceptable.

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