The Harmful Effects Of Television On Kids You Should Know About

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Television has helped in the development of kids but research studies have indicated TV has negative effects. This article delves into the harmful effects of screentime for kids.

How often do we switch on the television for our kids when we need to attend to some work around the house? It is a good enough distraction and keeps them away from getting into trouble right? Well not really! Have you ever thought about the harmful effects of television on kids? 

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Many parents put the TV on for their kids when they have some work to attend to

The (in)famous TV though at times is a life saver to a busy parent, over a time can be hazardous to your child; in more ways than one.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) announced a recommendation in 2011 that states that “parents of infants and toddlers should limit the time their children spend in front of televisions, computers, self-described educational games and even grown-up shows playing in the background.”

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The AAP recommends that you need not cut off all TV, but limit the time your child spends in front of the TV

This recommendation follows their previous announcement in 1999 which was much more stringent and called on parents of young children to all but ban television watching for children under 2.

Dr. Ari Brown, a pediatrician in Austin, Texas, and the lead author of the academy’s policy said “We felt it was time to revisit this issue because video screens are everywhere now, and the message is much more relevant today that it was a decade ago,”

Dr. Ari says the new recommendation is much more realistic given that there between TVs, computers, iPads and smartphones, households may have 10 or more screens.

Harmful effects of television

One of the primary  concerns about kids getting glue’d to the TV is that they turn into ‘couch potatoes’ rarely getting any exercise and getting into the habit of snacking while watching TV. Children should be encouraged to go outside and play and interact with ‘real people’.

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Encourage your child to enjoy outdoor activities as well.

Based on research studies, TV exposure is said to also cause short attention span and violent behaviour among children.

TV watching is also known to lessen and even hinder parent-child interactions. This happens when parents turn to TV as the first choice to entertain kids Instead of spending time with them playing games and even talking. 

If kids spend too much time watching TV up to the wee hours of the night, this may cause daytime sleepiness. This will affect their concentration and eventually lead to poor school performance.

Other forms of ‘harmful entertainment’

Parents should make informed decisions when it comes to choosing entertainment options for babies as well. Rockers and bouncers are great for keeping baby safe until you have your own meal or attend to something important while keeping an eye on baby. 

However keeping baby strapped into these seats for too long is not good either. Vary your baby’s playtime by singing to them, playing with blocks and more interactive forms of play.

The new iPad seat for newborns introduced by Fisher-Price has been getting a lot of slack for this very same reason. Its as good as plonking your baby in front of a TV.

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The new Fisher Price iPad seat has been getting a lot of slack. Photo credit: messagewithabottle.tumblr.com/

The seat part of this is similar to a rocker or bouncer, but this new seat has an arm attached to hold an iPad! The backlash this product has received on Amazon is tremendous with numerous complaints from parents criticizing it.

However Kathleen Alfano, Ph.D. and Senior Director of Child Research at Fisher-Price says this about interactive media “When parents choose to engage their infants with media they should limit the amount of viewing time and take periodic breaks, review the content of what they are exposing them to, and be with them while they are viewing”

The bottom line is, companies will sell a varied range of products that have mass market appeal; it is the parents who need to make an informed decision on which products are best for their children and the time the child is exposed to these. This applies to TV watching as well.

Going with the American Academy of Pediatrics(AAP)’s latest recommendation of screen time being “limited” and not eliminated completely; it is best that parents decide which TV programs kids can watch and for how long.

If you want to share your opinion on this subject, please feel free to leave us a comment below with your thoughts on screentime for kids.