It’s hard enough for parents to set expectations for children when everyone can see an immediate result, like a clean room or a grade; it is even harder to set expectations for children when it takes months to see the outcome, like the benefits that come from limiting screen time.
A study by Iowa State University, published in JAMA Pediatrics, says reducing the amount of time children spend on the computer or in front of the TV, as well as monitoring content, will help them sleep more, do better in school, behave better and lower the risk of obesity. But these results don’t happen immediately, making it hard for parents and kids to buy into decreasing screen time, reports Newswise, a research-reporting service.
The study suggests parents find a healthy balance with screen time. The American Association of Pediatrics recommends that children under 2 not watch any television, and that older children have no more than one or two hours of screen time a day.
Fifty-six percent of children in Kentucky spend more than two hours a day playing video games, watching television, videos or DVDs, or on the computer, according to a 2012 survey of parents by the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky. The children in the Iowa study averaged more than 40 hours of screen time a week, not counting time spent on a computer at school.
The study analyzed the media habits of more than 1,300 school-aged children who were recruited to participate in an obesity prevention program. Students and parents were surveyed about screen time, exposure to violent media, bedtime and behavior. Teachers reported grades and commented on student behavior. School nurses measured student’s height and weight. Data were collected at the start of the program and seven months later at the end of the program and collective patterns were identified.
KidsHealth.org makes these suggestions to create good TV habits in your home:
1. Limit TV-watching hours
2. Put other things to do in the TV room: books, kids’ magazines, toys, puzzles, games
3. Keep TVs and internet connections out of the bedrooms
4. Turn the TV off during meals
5. Don’t allow kids to watch TV while doing homework
6. Treat TV as a privilege to be earned
7. Establish and enforce family TV viewing rules
8. Record and watch only the shows you want your kids to watch