Television and Kids

Recently the American Academy of Pediatrics warned that children under 2 years of age should not spend any time in front of televisions, computers, or other “screens.” They stated that the time spent in front of these screens is not beneficial to young children in any way and prevents them from being involved in activities that are beneficial, such as interaction with other people. They go on to discourage putting televisions in children’s bedrooms. To this I give a resounding, “YES!” For years I have discouraged parents from putting televisions in their kids bedrooms for several reasons:

  • Parents can not monitor what or when the children are watching.
  • Children need to learn to fall asleep by self-soothing, not by watching television.
  • Children and teens will watch more television if they have constant access to it.
  • They don’t learn how to “share” the family television if they have one of their own.
  • And this is one of the most important …Having children and teenagers come into the den to watch television forces them out of their room and into the family space.  Parents and kids get to see each other and interact more often!
I realize it requires more effort from parents to do this.  After all, we have to share the television too.  However, I think the benefits far outweigh the hardship. A few years ago I also encouraged parents not to allow computers in children’s bedrooms for the same reasons.  Now, that is more difficult because so many schools require kids to have laptops for classwork and homework.  I still say that limiting computer time and encouraging kids to use a computer in a family space is worth considering.   How do you handle this issue in your family?

About Gretchen Derda (Woosley), MSW, LCSW

I am a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in a private psychotherapy practice where I specialize in work with families and children. My focus is to help families improve their functioning so that each member of the family can reach their full potential, becoming the persons they were meant to be.
This entry was posted in adolescent mental health, child mental health, parenting and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Television and Kids

  1. Amy A says:

    Every so often a study like this comes out to warn parents and that’s okay, but there are so many benefits that tv can provide. Today I brag about my little one’s love for Elmo, and I have no shame in that, he loves Sesame Street (when we can catch it). But, we also like to watch music videos and dance to the music. The tv isn’t on all the time, but I don’t ban it. That is just too extreme for me.

    As parents it is always up to us to use things, and not let things use us. This study should be taken into consideration, yes, but guidelines are just that, guides — it is up to us to know our children, what they need and then guide them ourselves.

    Thanks for posting this today. It’s always a great topic for discussion. Cheers. Amy

  2. Gretchen D. Woosley, MSW, LCSW says:

    Thank you for your comment. I think one of the important points you make is that you watch the videos and Sesame Street and interact with your child (dance! Yay!) while doing so. I think the interaction is key. That’s much different than sitting him in front of the television alone. The other really important point you make is that it is up to parents to know their children. I agree wholeheartedly. Thanks for chiming in!

  3. How do we handle the TV issue? It is a constant straggle and most often wish we did not have a TV in the house. Total elimination would be the easy way out. Yes, my son (3yrs) may learn some things from watching various programs, but he can also learn this by actively interacting with the world around him. To be absolutely honest, the TV in our house is used on weekday evening as a time for mum to complete tasks easily when dad is at work. So yes a baby sitter but a limited one. Along with turning off the TV I should learn to integrate my son in getting dinner ready. This way he would grow up to think it is his role to step in help with the house hold cores. ah! But at the end of a full day’s work outside the home, you just want to get it done with little interruption and mess to clean up afterwords, plus he is three …maybe when he is four or five. Like I said it is a straggle.

  4. Emily says:

    We have never allowed TVs or computers in the boys rooms. I just don’t want them there, but you made points I never considered! Now I feel even better about it!

  5. Lisa says:

    We do not allow TV in the kid’s rooms, but my oldest is trying to wear me out by continually asking!! They do have radio/CD players in their rooms, and even that has inappropriate content…so I’m reconsidering that too.
    I would love to eliminate the cable in our house altogether and have a TV only for local channels and DVD watching….but having a cartoon at the ready to captivate the kids for a half hour or hour in case I need to get something accomplished is hard to give up.

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