Television (TV) has its good side. It can be entertaining and educational, and can open up new worlds for kids, giving them a chance to travel the globe, learn about different cultures, and gain exposure to ideas they may never encounter in their own community. Programs with positive role models can influence people to change their behavior for the better. However, the reverse can also be true: Kids are likely to learn things from TV that parents don't want them to learn. TV can affect kids' health and family life.
It's worthwhile for parents to think about what role they want TV to play in their family. Consider:
A great deal is known about children and television, because there have been thousands of studies on the subject. Researchers have studied how TV affects kids' sleep, weight, grades, behavior, and more. it's worth looking at what the research says when deciding how to manage television in your family. Spending time watching TV can take time away from healthy activities like active play outside with friends, eating dinner together as a family, or reading. TV time also takes away from participating in sports, music, art or other activities that require practice to become skillful. TV viewing starts earlier than other forms of media—often beginning before age two. In recent years, TV, video and DVD programs geared to babies and toddlers have come on the market—and now even a cable channel for babies. We don't know yet what effect TV-viewing by babies may have on their development. We do know that time spent watching TV replaces time spent interacting with caregivers and other children. Social interaction is critical to a baby's healthy development. How big a presence is TV in kids' lives?
On average, kids spend nearly 4 hours a day watching television, DVDs and videos . 68% of 8- to 18-year-olds have a TV in their bedroom; 54% have a DVD/VCR player, 37% have cable/satellite TV, and 20% have premium channels . In 63% of households, the TV is "usually" on during meals . In 53% of households of 7th- to 12th-graders, there are no rules about TV watching . In 51% of households, the TV is on "most" of the time .
Kids with a TV in their bedroom spend an average of almost 1.5 hours more per day watching TV than kids without a TV in the bedroom. Many parents encourage tots to watch TV.
Find out more about TV in the lives of children ages zero to six. As you can see, if your child is typical, TV is playing a very big role in their life. Here are some key research findings to keep in mind as you decide what kind of role you want TV to play in your family:
TV viewing is probably replacing activities in your child' s life that you would rather have them do (things like playing with friends  , being physically active, getting fresh air, reading, playing imaginatively, doing homework  , doing chores). Kids who spend more time watching TV (both with and without parent and siblings present) spend less time interacting with family members.  Excessive TV viewing can contribute to poor grades, sleep problems, behavior problems, obesity, and risky behavior. Most children' s programming does not teach what parents say they want their children to learn; many shows are filled with stereotypes, violent solutions to problems, and mean behavior. Advertisers target kids, and on average, children see tens of thousands of TV commercials each year . This includes many ads for unhealthy snack foods and drinks. Children and youth see, on average, about 2,000 beer and wine ads on TV each year . Kids see favorite characters smoking, drinking, and involved in sexual situations and other risky behaviors in the shows and movies they watch on TV. More on how television viewing affects children.
For more detailed information on these issues, read on.
Does TV affect children's brain development?
With television programs—and even a cable channel—designed and marketed...
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