Seriously no TV? What the experts say about screen time and kids.
I had the opportunity tonight to speak to my daughter’s pre-school about screen time. And you ask…what gives me the authority to speak on this subject? Well, I don’t have a fancy degree, nor am I a prominent researcher, but what I am is a product of my environment. You see, I was not raised with a television in my home and we are raising our kids the same way. No TV.

I have been gathering information on this topic for several months and wasn’t exactly sure how to approach it. People really don’t like being told that they are doing things wrong or that their kids might suffer. And from my experiences in life, I know for a fact that people pick and choose the information that they want. I also find it fascinating to note that people become extremely defensive when you mention that you don’t have TV. They immediately start justifying their use of technology and that they don’t really watch all that much TV. LOL. I laugh, because I am not being critical, I am simply stating facts. And what I have to offer is information and education. Take what you want from it and use it to better your family…your life will thank you for it.

So, I finally decided to make a list of some fascinating statistics dealing with children and screen time, a few bullets of the effects of TV and then some solutions and alternatives to using a screen (TV, I-Pad, video games, DVDs, I-pods, cell phones).

I hope your family benefits greatly from this info.

Kids & Screen Time
Abigail P – Monday January 9, 2012

Screen Time Stats

 Average child in America spends an average of 2.5 hours of listening to music via i-pod; 5 hours of TV; 3 hours of internet/video games and 38 minutes of reading.
 2/3 of Pre-schoolers get more than the maximum 2 hours a day of SCREEN TIME (TV, video games, computers, DVD’s, I-Pad’s, Cell phones) Usually 4 hours daily, with 3.6 hours if they are at home and 5.6 hours if they are in an in-home day care.
 More time in front of a screen than they spend in school, within a year’s time.
 Children ages 2-5 spend 32 hours a week in front of a TV.
 43% of children under 2 watch TV, which is against the APA recommendations of no TV under the age of 2 and no more than 1 to 2 hours a day for children up 2-5 years.
 Only 1/3 or 33% of parents monitor or set limits on screen time.
 Average American child sees 10,000 food commercials a year.
 Percentage of households that possess at least one television: 99%
 Number of TV sets in the average U.S. household: 2.24
 Percentage of U.S. homes with three or more TV sets: 66%
 Number of hours per day that TV is on in an average U.S. home: 6 hours, 47 minutes.
 40 – 60% of homes have TV on for the majority of the day.
 Percentage of Americans that regularly watch television while eating dinner: 66%
 Number of hours of TV watched annually by Americans: 250 billion.
 Percentage of Americans who pay for cable TV: 56%
 Number of videos rented daily in the U.S.: 6 million.
 Number of public library items checked out daily: 3 million.
 Percentage of Americans who say they watch too much TV: 49%

Development & Effects Of Screen Time

• During the early years, brain development is critical.
• Having too much screen time inhibits their creativity; motor skills & socialization.
• Lose out on activities that stimulate the brain.
• Babies & Toddlers live in a very literal world and often have a hard time distinguishing real life and TV; thus imitation.
• Studies show children can be exhibit more violence, aggressive behavior and desensitized to certain things.
• Children younger than 2 view TV as a confusing array of color, images and noises. And since the scene changes on the average of 5-8 seconds, they do not have time to digest it.
• Children benefit better from real interactions than from watching them on TV.
• Cartoons & many shows have changed over the years.
• Media and Screens can be very ADDICTIVE.
• Ads and commercials.
• Free internet game sites are the new tool of advertising.
• Children with TVs in their rooms watch 1.5 more hours of TV than others.
• Children with 5 hours or more of screen time a day are 4x as likely to be obese than those who see less than 2 hours a day.
• Children who are heavy users of screens and media over ½ of them get C’s and below.
• Creates distractions.
o Dinner table.
o Homework.
 Facebook.
 Texting.
 Twitter.

o Not just TV – More than just sitting down in front of TV

• Video Games
• TV/DVD players in vehicles
• DVD players at the airport
• Hand Held Devices (game systems, I-pods, i-touch, etc)
• TV
• Cell Phone (more than just talking; texting)
o At restaurants, on the bus, in the car, at the dinner table
• Laptops
• I-Pads

Solutions/Alternatives To Screen Time

Limiting screen time benefits the whole family

 Set Limits (parents who set limits, consumption of screen time drops by nearly 3 hours a day)
 Log Time
 Set timers
 Screen time = Active Time
 Don’t use it as a consequence or reward
• Library
• Bake
Etch a Sketch
• Photo Books
Board Games
• Family Dinner (NO Screens at dinner)
• Sit less; move more
• Screen Free play dates
Bike
Paint
 Benefits of playing alone – American Academy of Pediatrics supports unstructured playtime for all ages
 Problem solving
 Think creatively
 Imagination

I gathered my information from a variety of sources and have started a board on pinterest that link to many of the articles that I read.

Feel free to comment below or on my social media–FB, Instagram, Pinterest, TikTok, or YouTube.

8 Responses

  1. I say it's whatever works for each respective family. I grew up with little supervision and a lot of screen time on TVs, movies, and a computer. I turned out just fine despite what "research" has to say.

    Statistics are often generalities that are based on only a small collective group and not the entire population. As such, I take all of this research and the facts provided with a grain of salt knowing different things, different behaviors will affect every individual differently.

    However, I will argue that to an extent many of us do spend way too much time on our computers, phones, iPads, TVs, etc. I'm quite guilty of that at times and largely because my brain is going a mile a minute and I have to keep myself busy.

    At the end of the day, if the no TV rule works in your house, kudos to you. For others, it's different and that's okay.

  2. Also, it's easy to blame the TV for what happens to kids but the responsibility needs to be on the parents instead. We've become a society that blames everyone but ourselves for things like this. There can be a middle ground instead of an all or nothing way of life. It does come down to the individual of course but there is something to be said for moderation.

    One other thing: Rather than laugh at people, be willing to help them learn and understand. Technology has its time and place and by laughing at them for using technology, you're somewhat showing yourself as a hypocrite. You're a blogger and on a computer aka screen time. What do you do to lead by example?

    I've done a lot of personal reflection lately and have found that I place a lot of blame on others or I fail to lead by example. Worse, I've been known to be too critical even though at times, I was merely making a point and people construed it as criticism. It's meant to get people to open their minds and think, not stay in a comfortable bubble free of any outside opinion or ideas.

  3. I grew up with a best friend who did not have a TV either and they all grew up to be fine people, as did I who had a TV, but when I grew up people were not addicted to technology like many are today. I feel that is the big difference. Many studies say that children should not watch any TV before they are 5, when the brain is developing. My children were raised {until teens} with watching a movie or two but not TV all the time. They have many other interests and love reading because of it. Good for you to do what you feel is the best for you and your family. Who cares what anyone else says. It's your life!

  4. Thanks Kim for commenting. I agree with much of what you said and appreciate your honest take on this topic. 🙂

  5. Thanks Wendy! Yes, our society is deluged with technology and it is everywhere! Adults are free to make their own choices and have completely developed brains, children do not and do not have a moderation button. My intention is for people to realize screen time goes beyond the TV and that monitoring it and cutting back will benefit the whole family! I really promote screen free dinner time! Can you imagine if parents turned off ALL of their electronic devices and everyone just sat down and talked and ate. WOW!

  6. If I may I would Like to say I grew up with TV and did not do so good in school. English was my second language at the time and parents had us watch TV from the moment we got up…well I don't think our TV was ever was turned off. 3 out of my 5 boys up until last year watched TV. My Husband and I decision to go NO TV! I saw a great improvement on my old son who didn't like reading but a week later picked up a book and said to me " why didn't we not stop watch TV sooner". My boys ask to go to the library more on a none school day then go to the arcade. To the mom who said "Also, it's easy to blame the TV for what happens to kids but the responsibility needs to be on the parents instead". I'm that parent and I Love my boys so I took the responsibility of making sure my boys get the best out of life now! They know mom may have started off wrong and was not so good at parenting. Let me tell you! It was not hard to give up TV when found out how kids think TV is real and not just make-believe and you see them acting out a scene from Hanna Montana or ICarly. It the times we live in and it has to start at home!!!!

  7. and to the mom who posted this on her blog…I't dose not take over night to change a the mind of parents who are unlearned.

  8. THis is a tough topic and you are right, no one likes hearing that they are doing something wrong, especailly when it is so convenient. No TV is the easiest part of all this. As they get older, there are so many types of technology they want access to. I would love to know, what technology, if any, your 10-year-old boys uses and how often. Ten-year-old boys are statistically, I think, high screen time users when you add in video games.

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