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Children Follow Parents’ Lead When it Comes to Watching TV

Update Date: Jul 16, 2013 10:22 AM EDT
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Due to recent technological advances, being in front of a screen, whether or not it is the traditional television screen or a tablet is starting to become a norm. Although a recent nationwide survey found that some parents do not mind their children's increased media screen time, several other studies have continued to find many associations between television and learned poor behaviors. Not only could young children learn inappropriate subjects too early from television shows, they could also be picking up a very bad habit of being a couch potato. A lifestyle with a lot of TV could increase one's risk of obesity, which is why getting children to avoid sitting in front of a screen all day is important. In a new study, researchers found that children's TV habits emulated their parents' TV habits.

"If the parents watch TV in their free time, the kids are being socialized to watch TV in their free time," the senior research scientist at the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania and lead researcher, Amy Bleakly said according to NPR.

The researchers administered surveys to 1,550 parents. The team discovered that on average, parents reported watching TV four hours a day. The parents also stated that their children watched an average of three hours a day. In households with teenagers, however, the researchers decided to interview the children and found that they watched an average of four hours a day. The data also revealed that the more TV parents watche,d the more TV their offspring watched as well. Some of the parents interviewed had TV rules, such as limiting TV time and prohibiting TV in children's rooms. For children between the ages of six and 11, these rules helped limit TV to a certain extent. For children who were older, however, the rules were not followed as diligently. The children in the study were under 17-years-old.

The researchers believe that in order to get children to watch less TV, parents will have to start watching less TV first. The researchers reported that for every hour parents spent watching TV, it led to an extra 23 minutes spent in front of the TV by their children. Children at a very young age will learn and pick up these habits from their parents. Once sitting in front of the TV becomes normal, the habit of watching too much TV could last throughout one's life.

"What parents do instead of watching TV teaches kids what to do with their time," commented Vicki Panaccione, a child psychologist and founder of the Better Parenting Institute in Melbourne, FL, according to TIME. "If they're readers, kids will take time to read, or play or color. If they're couch potatoes, then they will have little spuds."

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends limiting children TV time to two hours. The researchers recommend no TV for children under two. Children should be more focused on exercising, academics, and especially human interaction. The study was published in Pediatrics

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