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U.S. Kids Exposed to 4 Hours of Background TV a Day

Recent studies indicate children actively watch 80 minutes of TV a day — but are exposed to over four hours of background TV. — Click to Tweet.

Unfortunately, even "active" TV watching is a predictor of weight gain and chronic disease. But TV background is prominent in children's lives as well, which has its own problems.

Unfortunately, even “active” TV watching is a predictor of weight gain and chronic disease. But TV background is prominent in children’s lives as well, which has its own problems.

In a study conducted by the journal Pediatrics and published on October 1st, researchers revealed that children in the United States are subjected to more than 4 hours of background TV a day. Inversely, the children studied normally only actively watched TV for an average of 80 minutes a day.

The study involved over 1,454 parents with children between the ages of 8 months and 8 years old. The parents were asked how often the TV was left on when no one was watching, how many TVs are in their home, and whether or not they allowed their children to have a TV in their rooms.

Study Findings

TV is commonly used as background noise, but researchers warn that this may ultimately be detrimental to children. The study expressed concerns for children who are constantly exposed to background TV, saying that it may hamper a child’s ability to stay attentive. Additionally, researchers feared that children used to constant TV background noise may later struggle in executing non-TV related activities.

Although the study hypothesized that TV background noise may not have as many far reaching ramifications in older children, it was suggested that children under the age of 8 who grow up around TV background noise may struggle with attention problems and learning skills later in life.

Just like this child who is glued to a TV, many other children all over the country are exposed to too much TV. It may be affecting their ability to pay attention to other tasks and activities.

Just like this child who is glued to a TV, many other children all over the country are exposed to too much TV. It may be affecting their ability to pay attention to other tasks and activities.

The study discovered that babies under the age of 2 are exposed to the most background TV, averaging about 5.5 hours a day. Background exposure declined as children age, resulting in 6- and 8-year-olds experiencing the least amount of background TV.

Researchers also took race, economic status, and marriage status into effect when conducting the study. It was discovered that children who come from lower income households were exposed to more background TV than most, averaging about 6 hours a day. Black children also averaged more background TV than white children, clocking in at 5.5 hours compared to white children’s 3.5 hours. Researchers also concluded that children in single parent households were typically exposed to more than 5 hours of TV a day, whereas children from two parent households averaged 3.5 hours.

While background TV could ultimately be deleterious to still developing children, researchers stress that they aren’t suggesting parents should cut out TV entirely. Keeping TV watching at a healthy level can be safe for children. But to ensure that children aren’t bombarded with background noise, try turning off the TV when no one is using it, or try relying on something else for background noise, such as music.

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