For as long as there have been televisions in living rooms, parents have been telling their kids that they are spending too much time watching TV and not enough time doing other things.
Most of the time, the reason the parent is concerned has to do with the child neglecting other tasks such as feeding pets, taking out the trash, and doing their homework, but it turns out that there is a real medical reason why kids should stop watching TV. It could actually be creating some pretty serious psychological problems.
A recent study was conducted by the University of Bristol. The researchers looked at kids who spent a lot of time watching television and living sedentary lifestyles against kids who consumed only an average of 2 hours of television and received a fairly active lifestyle. The sample for the poll was over 1,000 children between the ages of 10 and 11. After the study, questionnaires were handed out to the kids and their parents. The participants in the study were then asked to answer the questions truthfully and to the best of their knowledge.
The study found that most kids who spend more than two hours each day in front of the TV have more psychological difficulties such as relating to their peers, emotional issues, and other signs of social awkwardness.
There was also no indication whether these psychological factors were already a part of the child. As some critics said “children who have psychological and social problems are more likely to spend time in front of a TV anyways.”
One note of interest was how kids who were TV watchers but stayed active compared to the kids who led a more sedentary life. There were some situations where the active kids fared better. The kids who participated in some sort of physical activity were better able to deal with problems in their social circles and also seemed to have a tighter grip on their emotions than the sedentary children.
However, the parents of the kids who were less physical didn’t complain about as many behavior problems as the ones who had active kids. The biggest complaint that the parents of the active kids had regarding their children usually had to do with hyperactivity.
In addition to studying the effects of long term exposure to the television, Bristol researchers also included kids who spent large chunks of time staring at the computer monitor.
The catch was that the kids on the computer had to be using the machine for something other than homework, such as playing games or surfing the internet.
Like the television-watching kids, two hours seemed to be the maximum amount of time a kid could stare into the monitor before it started to take some sort of toll on their personality.
How you handle your children’s television habits is up to you. Most of the psychological problems the study unearthed were feelings of mild anxiety and some signs of social awkwardness. There was also no indication whether the screen on the television and the computer monitor were the cause of the problems, or if it was the fact that the child was participating in a mindless activity.
But whether this is a factor or not, sometimes taking the child away from from the television and outside for a fresh breath of air can do wonders.