Your Kids and Television: Is it Really All that Bad?
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If watching television doesn't have any negative impact, why should a child's consumption be limited? As the AAP points out, the first two years of a child's life are a critical time for brain development. Infants need direct interaction with people, such as playing and exploring with adults and other caregivers, for healthy brain growth and to develop appropriate social, emotional, and cognitive skills. Excessive television time can get in the way of these important developmental milestones.
Also, too much television when a child is young can lead to unhealthy habits as he gets older, and can get in the way of physical activity, reading, spending time with friends and family, and doing homework. In addition, according to the Nemours Foundation, kids who consistently watch more than four hours of television a day are more likely to be overweight, and kids who view violent acts on television are more likely to show aggressive behavior.
Striking the TV balance
It is important for parents to teach children from a young age that television is for occasional entertainment, not a constant distraction. Parents should be strict about setting limits on television time, and permit their children to watch only certain educational shows. The Nemours Foundation offers parents some additional tips for teaching children good television habits, such as:
- In rooms with a television, make sure plenty of non-TV entertainment is also available, such as books, board games, puzzles, and kids' magazines.
- Keep televisions out of bedrooms.
- Turn the television off during meal times.
- Talk to kids about what they see on television.
- Watch television together.
- Suggest fun alternatives to watching television.
By making television an occasional alternative to other activities, kids will be less likely to look to it as constant form of entertainment, and will find healthier ways to occupy their time.