Why should parents turn off the TV? The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children spend no more than two hours per day engaged in screen time. While television has been the main culprit for decades, children are increasingly playing hours of video games and using computers as well.
Two studies recently published in JAMA Pediatrics show how detrimental to kids’ health these sedentary activities can be.
Increased media time can lead to emotional and family problems.
In one study, researchers from a European study of diet- and lifestyle-related disorders in children showed that children who engage in higher levels of screen use have poorer indicators of well-being. Essentially every added hour of screen time, whether television, e-game, or computer, led to between a 1.2- and 2.0-fold increase in the risk for emotional problems and poorer family functioning.
Increased TV, computers, and video games can lead to obesity.
While a link between children’s screen time and obesity has been shown previously, the second study shows how the role of mothers affects it. Researchers from the Oregon Social Learning Center found that the less mothers monitor the media consumption of their children, the higher the body mass index (BMI) of those kids is likely to be.
These studies clearly show that mothers need to pay close attention to the media consumption of their children. Turning those devices off alone might be a start. Encouraging your kids to be physically active, especially in activities as a family, might improve the obesity risks as well as the emotional and family function issues.
Instead of letting kids watch TV shows after school, go for bike rides together as a family. Rather than allowing kids to sit in their bedrooms and play video games or spend hours online, get everyone out of the house and go play at the park.
Turn off the TV and video games, and you might soon find that your kids are healthier and your family is happier.
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Note: A modified version of this post will appear as an upcoming article for the Be Active Your Way blog of the U.S. Department for Health and Human Services.
Hinkley T, Verbestel V, Ahrens W, Lissner L, Molnár D, Moreno LA, Pigeot I, Pohlabeln H, Reisch LA, Russo P, Veidebaum T, Tornaritis M, Williams G, De Henauw S, De Bourdeaudhuij I; for the IDEFICS Consortium. Early Childhood Electronic Media Use as a Predictor of Poorer Well-being: A Prospective Cohort Study. JAMA Pediatr. 2014 Mar 17.
Tiberio SS, Kerr DC, Capaldi DM, Pears KC, Kim HK, Nowicka P. Parental Monitoring of Children’s Media Consumption: The Long-term Influences on Body Mass Index in Children. JAMA Pediatr. 2014 Mar 17.
American Academy of Pediatrics; Committee on Public Education. American Academy of Pediatrics: children, adolescents, and television. Pediatrics. 2001;107(2):423-426.