A recent study out of the Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto, has shown just how difficult it is to curb the TV viewing time of young children. According to researchers, children who spend too much time in front of the screen are at a greater risk of obesity and delayed development. That information as well as providing parents with strategies for reducing screen time such as removing TV set from children’s bedrooms, and discouraging eating meals in front of the TV was given by physicians to parents of preschool children.
In the study 160 families were randomly selected, where in half of the parents of three year olds received a 10 minute counseling session on creating healthy TV viewing habits, and the other half were given information on internet safety. After one year, researchers found that the information and counseling given by doctors to parents had negligible effect on the amount of time children spent in front of the television. The physicians that took part in the study, were however, successful in reducing the numbers of meals consumed by the children in front of the television, which is important as other research has found that older children are often unaware of their hunger cues, and therefore over consume foods when watching television.
Overall, researchers and physicians feel it is best to control the number of hours of TV children watch, and encourage healthy eating and activities as young as possible in order to establish good habits early in life. Both the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Canadian Pediatric Society do not recommend television viewing before the age of two years.
Source: Journal of Pediatrics, Nov. 5, 2012