April 20, 2016

How Too Much TV Can Affect Your Child

Like most people, you enjoy watching TV at the end of a long day to unwind. No matter which show you prefer to watch, you almost always learn something new or, at the very least, feel entertained.

Likewise, you know your children like to watch their favorite TV shows as often as you allow them to. But lately, you’ve noticed a difference in your child’s overall health and behavior. Your child may seem angrier than normal. Or perhaps he or she doesn’t fall asleep as easily and then is restless for the rest of the night. Whatever the case, you wonder what could have caused such a change in your child.

Have you thought that perhaps the amount of TV your child watches could be the cause of your child’s mood or bad sleeping patterns? In this blog, we explore how too much TV time affects your child and what you as a parent can do to mitigate these effects.

Lower Sleep Quality

According to a 2014 study, the more TV a child watches, especially in the evening hours, the lower quality of sleep he or she has. Additionally, children who had a television in their bedrooms were far more likely to suffer from restless sleep and to sleep less each night.

Depending on your child’s age, he or she needs between 8 and 12 hours of sleep at night, plus up to an additional three hours in naps during the daytime. TV acts as an entertaining distraction that can prevent your child from sleeping properly. This lack of quality sleep can lower your child’s immune systems and cause him or her to feel fatigued, hungry, and more emotional.

Poorer Behavior

As educational as some children’s TV programs are, these same shows may inadvertently impact your child’s behavior. For example, in some TV show episodes, the main character gets into trouble. Maybe he or she lied or did something naughty, and then he or she had to find ways to resolve the issue.

Even though the episode demonstrates that this behavior is unacceptable and shows children how to resolve problems, some children might mimic the negative behavior rather than the positive behavior. If your child starts to display bad behaviors, you may want to examine the TV shows he or she watches.

Less Exercise

Depending on which types of shows your child watches, he or she might devote less time to playing and exercising each day. Daily exercise allows your child to build healthy, strong muscles; develop better coordination; and maintain healthy body mass.

But if your child watches TV for too long, he or she doesn’t have time to go outside to play and exercise. And, as previously mentioned, too much time in front of the TV increases a child’s tendency to snack, making him or her more likely to eat more food than needed during the day.

The extra intake of food and calories, combined with a decrease in physical activity, can cause your child to gain weight.

Impaired Focus

Some research shows that children who have a TV in their bedrooms and who watch several hours of TV during the day have a harder time focusing. If you have a school-aged child, he or she may have a harder time concentrating in class. As a result, he or she may perform more poorly on exams and homework assignments.

What You Can Do

Though you shouldn’t cut out TV time entirely—after all, a lot of children’s TV shows teach your children good values and life lessons— there are a few things you can do to reduce the negative impacts watching too much TV can have on your child. Consider the following:

  • Sit down and watch the shows with your child and look out for the character traits your child has started to display. If necessary, find new shows that demonstrate qualities you want your child to develop.
  • Set a limit for how much TV your child can watch each day. Most experts recommend that children watch no more than two hours daily.
  • Suggest alternative actives such as reading, playing games, or learning a new hobby.
  • Spend extra time with your children. Join in activities with them or teach them to do things that you enjoy doing.
  • If your child suffers from any of the issues listed above, too much TV time could be to blame. Use the tips mentioned in the final section of this blog to adjust your child’s exposure to television. Though TV shows can be a great source of educational opportunities for your children, watching too much TV each day can negatively impact their behavior and overall health.

    Try reducing the amount of TV he or she watches each day—including at home, daycare, and school—to improve his or her health and behavior. For more information and tips, read through our other blog articles.