Monday, June 4, 2012

Should Kids Have a TV in Their Bedrooms?

Nola Lopez / Copyright:
2008 The New York Times Company
I did a Google search for the question: Should a child have a TV in his room? The results showed that many parents are asking this question to online advisers, parent experts and peers. One site, which promotes itself as providing "clear answers" gives an decidedly gray answer: there are pros and cons to putting the tube in your child's bedroom. Curious about the pros, I read the entire article. At the end of the article was the lone "pro:" Some parents prefer to set rules and trust their children to follow them since they can't be constantly supervised.

I disagree. Sure, some kids can be trusted, but why put the temptation in front of them?

The reasons to keep the TV out of a child's bedroom are more vast and compelling. According to a New York Times article by Tara Parker-Pope, Kids with a TV in the bedroom:
  • Score lower on all kinds of academic tests
  • Experience more sleep problems
  • Have a greater chance of being overweight
  • Are at higher risk for smoking
  • Read less than other kids
  • Will watch more hours of TV than kids without a TV in their rooms
The article says:
Why a bedroom television appears to have such a pronounced impact is unclear. It may be that it’s a distraction during homework time or that it interferes with sleep, resulting in poorer performance at school. It could also suggest less overall parental involvement.
In spite of the evidence discouraging it, the practice continues. According to Common Sense Media, 42% of kids under age eight have a TV in their bedrooms, including 30% of babies under age one. Another study cited in the medical journal Clinical Pediatrics surveyed parents of children ages 2 to 13. The results show that "67% of all children had a TV in the room where they slept." The study also found that bedroom TVs were more prevalent in minority homes. The abstract of the study says:
The top 3 reasons parents cited for putting a TV in the room where their child sleeps were (a) to keep the child occupied so that the parent could do other things around the house, (b) to help the child sleep, and (c) to free up the other TVs so that other family members could watch their shows.
It sounds like parents don't want to be inconvenienced by missing their own television programs or by having a bored child. Whatever the reasons for putting a TV in a child's bedroom, it's time to rethink them for the health and well-being of the children.

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