By Carrie Lauth
Have you ever read the statistics on how much time modern children spend in front of the television and other screens? The figures are a little disconcerting for most parents. Are you concerned about your kids watching too much?
According to Kidshealth.org, "In a year, the average child spends 900 hours in school and nearly 1,023 hours in front of a TV." It really is a scary thought that kids spend more time in front of the television than almost any other activity. What might be some of the results of this much screen time?
Sit down and watch an hour of television, being very aware of what you see. It will not take you long to discover some of the negative aspects. You will most likely notice a few of the following: violence, marketing messages, sarcasm and an attitude of disrespect towards authority, sexual innuendo, and other risky behaviors that most likely you do not want your child exposed to repeatedly. The content of much TV is degrading and discouraging. Even things like bullying and scary images can frighten a child.
As for the commercials, is it any wonder our children beg for every toy in sight? The toy industry has your child's mind bombarded with their commercials day after day. Most children are led to believe by commercials that the items they see are a must have and will make them a happier individual. Is this an idea we want to instill in our children?
Let's talk about our children's health. Many health experts agree that spending too much time sitting passively in front of screens can lead to weight issues. TV time tends to replace exercise and physical activity, and the act of watching TV actually lowers the metabolism to a state less than sleeping! Add that to the fact that our kids are bombarded by commercials that encourage them to eat unhealthy foods. Also worrisome are the findings that, especially for toddlers, TV viewing has a correlation with hyperactivity and attention problems later on.
Finally, risky behaviors are a widespread occurrence on most television shows today. They showcase every thing from sexual activity to drug use. Is this leading our children to believe that they are acceptable behaviors? It's a good question to ask.
What about so-called educational TV? It's true that some shows, especially those on public television, have none of the issues associated with inappropriate content as mentioned above. However, many parents are concerned that their kids are being passively entertained instead of creating their own fun or even simply daydreaming to pass the time. Truly, we may not know exactly what our kids are missing out on unless we make the move to turn the TV off.
If you're a parent who wants to limit TV and other screen time, find tools and resources to help you achieve that goal at www.InsteadofTV.com.
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