What Parents Need to Know About TVs In Children's Bedrooms
television a normal part of your children's lives? If so, you will no doubt be
interested in what two recent studies have revealed about young children
Released by the
John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Heath in July and October of 2007, the
results indicate many issues with having young children watching too much
television, including one common theme: A television in your child's bedroom is
not a good idea.
If this seems like
a "no-brainer" to you, perhaps you need to check with some of your friends
because one of the most surprising statistics in the October study was that
forty-one percent of the 2,707 children studied who were 5 years old had a
television in their bedroom.
One more time, in
case you missed that: Close to one in two kindergarten-aged children have
their own private bedtime TV. Are you as astonished at this as I am? And what
does all this TV time mean from a child development perspective?
The study released
in October focused on behavioral issues resulting from exposure to television at
the ages of 2.5 and 5.5. The researchers followed those 2,707 kids over a period
of many years so they could see if there were trends toward more or less
television viewing as the children approached school age.
The results are
pretty much predictable, but the study does hold some surprises. As expected,
children with heavy television exposure during the entire period of the study
(one in five parents reported their child watched two hours or more television
at both 2.5 and 5.5 years of age) were more likely to exhibit behavioral
problems. Perhaps more significant was children who were heavily exposed to
television at the earlier age of 2.5, but then had their tube-time significantly
reduced or were weaned off the set completely by 5.5 showed no behavioral
problems that correlated with television viewing.
In other words, if
you are tempted to use the TV as a childcare support device when you children
are very young, make serious plans to reduce their exposure as they become
In the area of
social skills (as opposed to behavioral problems), the findings skewed a little
differently. Kids who watched little TV at the earlier age but ramped up their
viewing time as they grew older were more likely to have problems cooperating
and maintaining self-control, according to lead author Kamila Mistry in a
CanWest News Service article.
However, if you put
a television in the child's bedroom, the problems are compounded, with the
parents of 5.5 year olds who have their own private televisions reporting more
behavioral and sleeping problems.
fall right into place as a sequel to the July study from earlier in 2007 that
assessed private television access in bedrooms against achievement test scores
for grade 3 students in Northern California.
"In this study, we
found that the household media environment was related to a child's academic
achievement," said Dina Borzekowski, lead author of the study and assistant
professor in the Bloomberg School's Department of Population and Family Health
Sciences, who was quoted in The JHU Gazette (the university newspaper of John
Hopkins University). "We saw that even when controlling for the parent's
education level, the child's gender and the amount of media used per week, those
who had bedroom TV sets scored around eight points lower on math and language
arts tests and seven points lower on reading tests."
Certainly these two
studies mesh together to suggest there really is no time in a child's life when
it is a good idea to have a television in his or her bedroom.
However, the July
information did indicate that another type of screen can have a beneficial
"A home computer
showed the opposite relationship — children with access to a home computer had
scores that were around six points higher on the math and the language arts test
and four points higher on the reading test, controlling for the same variables,"
says Borzekowski, who adds the best combination is no TV in the bedroom and a
computer somewhere else in the home.
Obviously, a home
computer can introduce other pitfalls parents need to be aware of, including
inappropriate content on websites and privacy concerns for children. However,
with proper filtering, and if it is located in a busy "public" area of your
home, it appears the good outweighs the bad.
As for television,
it clearly appears the idea of putting a screen in junior's bedroom should be
put to rest.
Besides writing this column for the Parents Television Council, Rod Gustafson authors Parent Previews® - a newspaper and Internet column (published in association with movies.com) that reviews movies from a parent's perspective. He's also the film critic for a major Canadian TV station, various radio stations and serves on the executive of the Alberta Association for Media Awareness. Finally, his most important role is being the father to four wonderful children and husband to his beautiful wife (and co-worker) Donna.
and the Media by Rod Gustafson
Television Council -
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