Tip #3 No TV in the Bedroom

May 25

Do not put a television in your child’s bedroom. This oft-repeated whiff of wisdom is about as obvious as not feeding kids Oreos for breakfast or letting your toddler take the city bus alone. And yet, statistics tell a different story. Thankfully, there is no epidemic of four-year-olds crowding buses but a recent study by the Kaiser Family Foundation indicates that 71% of all 8- to 18-year-olds are watching the boob tube in the comfort of their bedrooms.  (Specifically: 54% of 8- to 10-year-olds and 76% of 11- to 18-year-olds.)

Call me old-fashioned, but I still consider television viewing part of our family time together. When my boys watch their shows, they watch together. My husband and I will pop in to check up on them or perhaps join them (sometimes just to make fun of the Suite but Annoying Life of Zack and Cody). Other shows, like Survivor, we enjoy together. I can learn a lot about my kids during these times, like why does my youngest son have a soft spot for that ugly dirt bag Russell?

My husband and I also use the family TV time to point out why commercials are not there to entertain, but rather to brainwash us into buying crap. Although, we are quick to admit that we like to buy a great deal of the crap we see in commercials – we just happen to do so with strategic discretion.

Certainly, no parent is going to debate the awesomeness of the TV as free babysitter. When I’m in desperate need of some peace and quiet, it would be so easy to send my boys to their rooms to watch SpongeBob.  They’d be running up the flight of stairs in no time. It’s not quite the same scramble when I advise one of my boys to “Go to your room and read a book” or “Go build a LEGO car” or “Go make your bed for once.”  However, the research clearly shows the downside of watching too much TV (added onto time watching video games, iPods, cell phones, car DVD players).

Kids who live in homes that limit their opportunities to stare stone-faced at a screen spend less time with media, in general. Substantially less time than their peers. A child with TV in his or her bedroom is exposed to media almost 12 hours per day while a child without that TV limits his or her exposure to 8 hours per day. (Keep in mind that media exposure includes music, as well, one hour of watching TV while looking at the iPod counts as two hours.)

Health is also a heavy concern for kids who are glued to their TV screens. A 2009 study by University of Minnesota determined that kids who watch more TV than their peers have less healthy diets five years later. Ever seen a TV ad for lettuce? How about porridge? Me neither. Not only are these kids sitting on their bottoms, doing, uh, nothing, they’re also more likely to eat snack foods (and it’s not edamame).

Keep the TV out of the kids’ bedroom. Simple. And, while you’re at it… maybe take it out of the parents’ room, too. Lest you suffer the same “heavy” consequences.

Image: Salvatore Vuono / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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One comment

  1. kevdog /

    I am in total agreement. No Tv, except in the parents room.

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