Children’s television viewing habits became a hot topic in parenting with recent controversy over Spongebob Squarepants and its links to poor attention span in children. We explored television viewing habits with our latest poll: “On average, how many hours of television do your children watch a day?”

Here are the poll results:

  • None – 17%
  • Less than 1 hour – 38%
  • 1-3 hours – 29%
  • 3-5 hours – 17%
  • More than 5 hours – 0%

Good news is majority of you are within the recommended range of television viewing. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends a maximum of one to two hours per day of “quality screen time” for children aged 2 and older. Screen time refers to viewing TV, movies, video games and computers.

Positive Effects of Television

  • Education: Quality programs can teach children vocabulary, science, math, languages and important life lessons.
  • Motivation for reading: Many movies and shows are based on books, which could spark an interest in reading.
  • Cultural appreciation: News and historical programming allows children to gain awareness of other cultures and people.

Negative Effects of Television

  • Sedentary activity: The lack of activity can lull kids into a low-energy state similar to sleeping. Too much inactivity can be harmful for growing children.
  • Snacking habits: Television watching can be linked to junk food consumption.
  • Overstimulation: If children watch the television close to bedtime, overstimulation could keep kids awake, causing them to miss out on sleep.

These negative effects of television viewing can be lessened with extra attention and care from parents:

  • Consider the content: Be mindful of what your children are watching. Ensure that the content is educational and positive.
  • Skip the commercials: Record your children’s programs ahead of time to reduce their viewing time. Or you can get your children involved in an alternate activity during the commercials.
  • Provide healthy snacks: Choose fruits and veggies as the snack of choice for TV time.
  • Designate a viewing time: Allow your children to watch television only during a designate time to ensure they’ve finished watching well before their bedtime.

All in all, it’s important to maintain a balanced lifestyle. For every minute your children spend in front of the television, make sure they also spend time reading, riding bikes or jumping on trampolines!

What television rules do you enforce in your home and why?

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