Experts say that watching more than two hours of television is actually a risk to your kids’ mental health!
Recent studies reveal that television, the beloved babysitter of many busy parents, can cause psychological and physical damage to children. New research from the University of Bristol in the UK explains that watching more than two hours of TV is a risk to the mental and physical health of kids. “Watching TV or playing computer games for more than two hours a day is related to greater psychological difficulties irrespective of how active children are,” Dr. Angie Page from the University of Bristol says.
Experts say watching too much of the box can cause aggressive behavior in toddlers as well as attention problems, education issues and obesity. And according to a study published in the U.S. journal Pediatrics, simply upping levels of physical activity will not and does not balance out the damage done.
Dr. Aric Sigman, of the British Psychological Society, has been warning people for a while of the dangers of watching too much television. In 2007, he published a report called “Visual Voodoo” that found 15 ways TV viewing was damaging kids’ health. “Watching television, irrespective of the content, is increasingly associated with unfavorable biological and cognitive changes,” he warns. He recommends children under 3 should not watch any TV, while 3- to 5-year-olds should watch no more than half an hour of “good quality programming” a day. Dr. Sigman adds that children ranging from 5 to 12 years of age should only watch one hour a day, and teenagers, an hour and a half.
But as many moms and dads know, this isn’t an easy thing to do. “When I first discovered my 2-year-old would sit in front of the TV for 20 minutes — meaning I could get on with something else — it was a relief. I think that’s how most mothers feel,” psychologist and mother-of-two Sue Firth explains. “So I don’t think we should blame moms for letting children watch the box. There is nothing wrong with TV — it’s part of our lives these days. You can’t fight it.”
But she understands and advises parents to be sensible. She warns that television is like an addiction, so suddenly taking it away from your kids is not the way to go. “Try to choose better-quality programs and play with them more away from the box so that they use their imagination differently,” she says. “Don’t beat yourself up about it — our kids are more sophisticated than we were and so are the TV choices available. Just apply a bit of common sense.”