Children and TV
This is what life looked like before TV, mobile phones, computers, tablets and the like! This is what my childhood looked like and I have very fond memories. It is probably an alien view for many young people and children these days. I wonder how many children play board games with their parents (or with each other), see their parents reading in the evenings, sit and talk, do arts and crafts. Very few, because not only are children addicted to TV and other screen devises, so are their parents.
"The average Australian young person spends about four hours a day in front of a screen of some sort. A typical home now has three TVs, three laptops and two videogame consoles, and a child’s bedroom resembles an electronics display room".
How many screen devices do you have in your house?
Here is some facts about TVs in children's bedrooms and it isn't good news and I doubt the data is any different for American children. (source: Active healthy kids Australia - report card, 2014):
- About a third of Australian children aged 9-11 have a TV in their bedroom and on average these children watch three hours’ more TV each week than children who do not have a bedroom TV.
- They also get 45 minutes less physical activity each week, one hour less sleep, and spend one hour more on the computer.
- They snack more in front of the TV, eat more fast food and consume more soft drinks, are 10% fatter, have larger waist girths, less self-confidence in being physically active, lower health-related quality of life, and their education scores are on average 30 points lower.
If we halve their television use, as US researcher David Epstein did by using electronic monitoring devices, children will eat 400 kJ less each day and will lose weight relative to their unrestricted peers. This may be why only 15% of thin Australian children have a TV in their bedroom, compared to 43% of obese children.
I think the advice is pretty clear, a TV in a child's bedroom is not healthy for them in any way.
Even if the child doesn't have a TV in their bedroom, they can still watch movies and TV shows via their other devices, such as the iPad and smart phone. So, who is at fault - the parents. They bought the devises and placed them in their children's rooms, whether by their own choice or due to pester power. Parents need to take back control in their homes otherwise we will have a increasing problem of unhealthy children.
Parents need to:
- set boundaries when it comes to screen based activities
- offer non-screen alternatives, such as games, books, crafts and hobbies
- model moderate screen behaviour themselves
- encourage their children to get outdoors and be creative and adventurous.
Wouldn't it be great to see more families have "no-TV" nights where parents and children sat around and play board games, read together or perhaps go for a walk, have a picnic etc.. I am sure it would create happier, less stressed, healthier families who got along so much better.