Tuesday, May 08, 2007
TV time hurting your kids?
As a television news correspondent, I am always struck by how many stories I report about people watching too much television. No, I am not trying to put myself out of a job, but now that I have children, these stories do always catch my attention. The age old question, "How much is too much?" will probably not be answered anytime soon, but the American Academy of Pediatrics has just put out one of the largest and longest term studies on the subject.
I will just go ahead and put it out there - I am guilty. My 22-month-old has been known to sit down and watch an entire episode of "Dora the Explorer." I swear it doesn't happen often, but it is the only time I have seen the little girl sit still for more than a few minutes. It is a blissful reprieve for us, even for just a few minutes. The American Academy of Pediatrics says it's a mistake to let children under 2 watch any television. Uh oh. For children older than 2, the recommendation is no more than 1-2 hours a day.
Their recommendations come from a study that followed almost 700 children (and their mothers) for 20 years. On average, it was from age 13 to 33. They found that adolescents who watched more than an hour of television were at elevated risk for poor homework completion, negative attitudes toward school, poor grades and long-term academic failure. They added that those who watched three or more hours were at elevated risk for subsequent attention problems. The problem seems to lie in something known as the orienting reflex. In a nutshell, because TV offers so many different stimuli in a short period, individuals are more likely to maintain focus only for very short periods.
Of course, not everyone is buying all of this. We checked with the Attention Deficit Disorder Association. They reminded us that this study still does not show a conclusive link between television and ADHD, and that around 50 percent of ADHD cases are genetic.
So, what do you think? Do you limit the number of hours of television your child watches? What are those limits? I am off to do another television segment, but looking forward to your reponse.
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