We’ve all read the research and know that too much time spent in front of the television is less than ideal for our little people. But, just how much is too much?
For the record, the most well known guideline is that children should not have more than two hours of screen time per day. But, aside from the length of time spent in front of a screen, the content of programming is very important, as is parental engagement. The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry recommends that parents select only age-appropriate programming for their children and that they take an active part in their children’s screen time. As parents, we need to be available to mediate meaning for our children so, encourage them to ask questions about what they’re watching and use programmes to spark conversation with your kid.
But, just to help you make some choices about your kid’s television watching habits, we’ve rounded up some of the latest research for you. Here’s what we’ve read up on recently:
Couch Potatoes for life?
Recent research published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health showed that the more time spent watching television as a child, the more likely an adult was to watch long stretches of television. This could mean that kids who have their eyes fixed to the TV for hours in childhood, are more likely to do the same as adults.
Television can be beneficial
The University of London’s Institute of Education released a study in 2013 in their journal Sociology which found that children who watch more than three hours of television a day, could be three months ahead developmentally, when compared with their peers who watched less than one hour of television per day. This research flies in the face of most general recommendations around kids and television but it should be viewed in context – the study placed a large emphasis on children who live in well-resourced households and determined that the socio-economic status of a family was a determining factor when plotting a child’s a developmental and academic journey.
The Second Screen:
It’s becoming quite common for adults to watch television and use a mobile device at the same time. I know that I do it quite often, as I take in an episode of my current favourite series, and then check emails or social media at the same time. Currently termed the “second screen”, the advertising world is waking up to the power of this practice and we’ve noticed quite a few media and marketing initiatives including the “second screen” into their strategies. But what about kids? AT&T in the United States has started catering for the second screen through their BabyFirst app, that pairs the device with a dedicated U-Verse channel, enabling toddlers and parents to create collages of shapes, characters and animals that can be beamed to their TV. A number of British programming houses are also adding a second screen or interactive mobile application to their on-screen offerings too. As the second screen becomes more commonplace on the couch, we expect that more and more television programmes and channels will become more interactive experiences through mobile applications.