Many parents are concerned with how much time their children will spend watching television on an average day. While there is certainly some good programming for children on television that can be beneficial, a lot of parents are wondering how they can get their children up, moving, and playing imaginative games like they used to when they were kids.
The computer age has changed the way a lot of kids want to spend their free time, but too much television can actually be bad for your child. As a parent, it’s your job to get your children active and help them find creative, fun outlets for their free time that will be more beneficial to their growth than sitting in front of the TV all day.
How Much TV Should My Children Watch?
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children watch no more than one or two hours of television per day. Unfortunately, the average child between the ages of eight and 18 watch nearly four hours of television per day.
The American Academy of Pediatrics also recommends that children under the age of two not watch any TV at all. If they do watch television, that time should be limited to just a few minutes per day.
Can Watching TV Hurt My Child?
Educational shows can actually be helpful to children, and there are a ton of great shows and DVD’s that teach toddlers the alphabet, or older children about science and nature. The key for parents is that children should watch television in small doses, not sit in front of it for hours at a time.
Too Much TV
Kids that spend too much time watching television can develop some TV-related problems. Children that spend too much time in front of the television are more likely to be overweight or obese, and their grades in school may suffer.
Behavioral problems, irregular sleep patterns caused by too much stimulation before bedtime, and increased exposure to desensitizing violence are also common among children that watch more than two hours of television per day.
Children that spend too much time watching TV also have less time for creative play activities. While there’s no exact data, many parents worry that less creative time will result in their children being less creative, resourceful people as adults because they aren’t developing that part of their brain.
Take Your Children Outside
As a parent, it’s your job to lead by example. If you spend all of your free time parked on the couch watching television, your children are going to think that’s a reasonable way for them to spend their time when they’re not in school.
Get involved with your children and take them outside to play. Physical activities like tossing a ball or even going for a walk can be a lot of fun for your child, and they’re a great way for you to bond as a family.
Organized activities like ballet classes, little league baseball or even a parent/child painting class are great for promoting health and creativity. Music lessons are also a great way to get your child to do something productive and creative, especially if they’ve expressed an interest in music.
Your kids aren’t going to go down to the park to play a game by themselves, and they’re not going to enroll in piano classes on their own. It’s your job as a parent to help them find activities that are healthy and stimulating to replace time spent in front of the television.
Your mother or grandmother probably told you that watching too much TV would hurt your eyes, or something of that nature. Modern televisions aren’t like the old ones that actually used to produce small amounts of radiation, so physical harm from watching TV isn’t likely.
However, as small child that spends a lot of time staring up at a TV on a wall mount from the floor could hurt their neck and shoulders, and it could affect their posture. Along with limited your children’s television time, it’s also important to make sure they watch TV from a safe, comfortable position.
Marcela De Vivo is a writer and founder of an content marketing firm. She is the proud mother of three, and luckily works from home so she can spend a good deal of time with her children.