Have you noticed that your kids are becoming more attached than ever to television, video games and texting? And the season doesn’t seem to matter. In winter, the shorter daylight hours and long, dark evenings allow less time for outdoor play. During summer, with more free time and fewer structured activities, it’s easy to turn to electronics for stimulation.
The latest Nielsen figures indicate that children are watching more TV than ever, with ages 2 to 5 watching over 32 hours a week. While television time for children aged 6 to 11 drops slightly, due to school hours, it’s still more than 28 hours a week. That is, on the average, greater than 4 hours a day. These numbers include VCR and game console usage but not time on the computer or playing hand-held video games.
Are you concerned about these staggering numbers? The American Academy of Pediatrics and other child healthcare advocates certainly are. They warn that this increased television watching may be linked to two significant childhood issues: obesity and delayed language development. For the past decade, parents thought that educational baby videos would help their infants develop language skills but, instead, studies found that infants who watch these kinds of videos actually learn fewer vocabulary words than those who don’t.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends only an hour or two of quality TV and videos for children older than 2 years and none for those below that age. The AAP has devoted an entire section of their website to educating families about media influences and empowering parents in the quest to monitor and protect their children. Pediatricians present their case for limiting screen time and also provide safety tips for internet usage. There are articles relevant to older children concerning cyberbullies and the dangers of logging into inappropriate internet zones.
And continue to tune in here this week. We’ll give you some tips for getting started as you craft a plan to wean your children from excess hours of television and video games. If you need some courage to begin the process, clink on the link to the left to receive a complimentary copy of our ebook, Courage and Lessons Learned.