Consistent Rules Can Limit Television Watching, Study Shows
You can help save your child from turning into a TV zombie.
No, it's not a lost cause. As much as your kids may love sitting in front of the television/computer/video game monitor, a new study shows that by setting limits, parents can curtail their children's screen time.
The more aware children were of their parents' rules and the more consistently those rules were enforced, the less likely kids were to exceed the recommended limits of screen time, according to an article in Pediatrics. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children older than 2 should watch no more than two hours of "quality entertainment media" per day.
Researchers surveyed more than 7,400 kids between the ages of 9 and 15 and their parents. The children were asked how much time they spent in front of screens, their physical activity levels and their parents' rules about television. Parents were asked how often they set limits on their children's viewing time.
The kids who "strongly agreed" their parents had rules about how much time they could spend watching television and playing video games were less likely to exceed recommended limits of screen time than those whose "strongly disagreed" that their parents set guidelines, according to the article. More than 27 percent of the kids watched more than the recommended amount, and boys, black children and children from lower income families were the most likely to do so, the article says.
"It kind of points out the fact that it's not just yes or no -- do you have rules, but the importance of the rules being consistent," Susan Carlson, the study's lead author and an epidemiologist at the Centers for Disease Control, tells ParentDish. "If you're going to have limits and rules for your kids, you need to make sure they're consistent and they're consistently enforced, and that the child is aware of the limits."
The study also found that the more physically active the children were, the less likely they were to watch too much television, the study found.
"Encourage your child to be physically active," Carlson recommends. "Kids can't be sedentary outside."
Related: Study Finds Television Noise Delays Development
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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.