No Matter What, TV Is Bigger Than Ever With Kids
getting bigger, no doubt about it. 26 inches was big when I was young, but now a
40-inch screen barely cuts it. But wait a minute... this article isn’t about how
big your TV is... it’s about how big TV is becoming.
ironic. These new plasma-busters (or LCD/LED combos for you leading edge people)
can display digital TV, DVDs, your PVR, Internet, memory cards, photos from the
PC in your office and Flikr, the webcam in your mother’s living room on the
other side of the country -- but when it comes to kids -- they just want good
‘ol fashioned TV... and lots of it.
from The Nielsen Company, released yesterday (October 26, 2009) tells us TV
viewing among kids is at an eight-year high. I must admit, I was surprised -- I
figured that with all the other distractions in a child’s life, the TV might be
seen as passé. Instead, the opposite is true.
shows that every week, an average child under 11 is spending more than one full
day in front of the television. That’s more than one full day -- 28 hours total
for the 6 to 11-year-old bunch and a whopping 32 hours for kids between 2 and 5
years of age.
staggering numbers do include some time playing video games (almost 2 1/2 hours
per week for the older group, and a little better than an hour per week for
younger kids) along with between about 5 and 7 hours per week watching
pre-recorded TV from a PVR or VCR and movies and TV material on DVD. But the
vast majority of the television our children are watching is live material
straight off the antenna or cable.
interesting discovery is children also watch more commercials, especially those
in the younger group, who will continue to consume the ads even when using
playback devices like a PVR.
Nielsen report does it’s best to put a positive spin on all this tube time.
After analyzing the amazingly high use of PVRs and DVD players by children as
young as 2, the report comments, “Their considerable use of these devices at a
young age points to them being able to adopt new devices comfortably as they
senior vice president of insights, analysis and policy, Patricia McDonough,
today’s Los Angeles Times that kids aren’t substituting TV time with other
media. “They're not giving up any media -- they're just picking up more,” says
attributes the increase in television viewing by young children in part to the
increased supply of programs targeting this age group. Videos they can watch
repeatedly are also very popular, she says.
the results are going to be alarming to many, especially the American Academy of
Pediatrics, an organization that over a decade ago pleaded with parents to limit
TV time to 2 hours a day -- that would equal 14 hours a week, meaning these new
averages are more than 100% above the recommendation.
for AAP, Dr. Vic Strasburger, didn’t mince his words at all in the same LA Times
article: “I think parents are clueless about how much media their kids are using
and what they're watching. The biggest misconception is that it's harmless
stresses that even the best children’s entertainment needs to be used in careful
moderation. “There are some extraordinarily good media for kids," he said. "But
even the best -- 'Sesame Street' for 5-year-olds -- kids shouldn't be watching
five hours a day. They should be outside playing. They should be having books
read to them."
blame it on the recession, and more parents spending greater time at work? Or
are we too trusting of television -- even programs that appear to be educational
studies have shown that watching television, any type of television, can have
effects on a child’s physical and mental state. If monitored carefully, some of
these effects can be positive. But, if used carte blanche as a time filling
activity, parents run the risks of increased obesity, behavior problems, school
performance concerns and other issues.
parents do? Twenty years ago I began offering tips to parents to control TV, and
it appears that for all the advances in technology, nothing has been done to
replace some tried and true methods:
Agree on allotted TV amounts and set a timer that beeps loudly
when the time is over. Kids often accept a mechanical/electronic reminder better
than mom or dad nagging them to turn it off.
Even two hours is a long time for a young child. Break up TV time
into smaller segments with other activities in between.
Preselect programs that meet your family’s standards. If you have
a PVR, VCR or recordable DVD, program these TV shows so kids can watch good
shows on their schedule. This will prevent pressure to watch possibly
objectionable programs now and do other things (like homework and exercise)
Frequently watch with your children, and ask them questions about
what they see and hear.
Besides writing this column for the Parents Television Council, Rod Gustafson authors Parent Previews® - a newspaper and Internet column (published in association with movies.com) that reviews movies from a parent's perspective. He's also the film critic for a major Canadian TV station, various radio stations and serves on the executive of the Alberta Association for Media Awareness. Finally, his most important role is being the father to four wonderful children and husband to his beautiful wife (and co-worker) Donna.
and the Media by Rod Gustafson
Television Council -
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