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Television

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TV Before Bed--Robs Kid's Sleep

The most common kid's activity before bed is watching television.

New Zealand researchers found that children and teens who spend the most time watching TV during the 90 minutes prior to sleep onset got less sleep than those who who engaged in non-screen sedentary activities. Late sleep onset was associated with significantly (P<0.001) more screen-based activity (TV, video games, computers) versus earlier sleep onset. Although casualty can not be inferred from this study, screen time certainly may disrupt or displace sleep.

PositiveTip: Promote longer and better sleep in your children and teens by encouraging limited pre-sleep screen time.

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Sitting Could Shorten Your Life Expectancy

Limiting time sitting could increase your life expectancy by 2 years!

By analyzing data from the NHANES researchers have found that by limiting time watching television (any screen time?) to less than 2 hours per day added 1.38 years of life. Cutting total daily sitting time to less than 3 hours increased life expectancy by 2 full years. This analysis is based on 166,738 survey respondents followed for almost 10 years.

PositiveTip: Let's move it! Walk instead of sit with a friend while talking--even at work. 

TV, Exercise and Depression

There are many studies that have demonstrated that the more you exercise the less likely you are to be depressed. A large study recently took a look at TV viewing and exercise in relationship to depression. 

The study followed nearly 50,000 nurses, ages 30-55, for a period of ten years. During this time they were periodically questioned regarding exercise levels, TV viewing, and the presence or absence of clinical depression. No one in this group was depressed at the beginning of the study. 

Depression was documented by a physician’s diagnosis of depression, the taking of anti-depressant medication, or depression diagnosed on a standardized questionnaire designed to pick up severe clinical depression. 

Fixing Childhood Obesity

Graph of Prevalence of Obesity in Youth by TV Viewing

Today's children are likely to die younger than their parents will. Why? Because of the chronic diseases associated with obesity. Right now, 66% of adults in the United States are overweight or obese. And the kids are catching up -- 32% of children and teens (ages 2-19) are overweight or obese.

It doesn’t take much to get fat. For a growing child, just 100 extra calories a day (the calories in just one cookie a day), can result in obesity in only 3-4 years. The great amount of inactivity spent in front television, computer, and handheld screens is another part of the problem. This graph demonstrates the prevalence of obesity compared with the hours of TV viewing per day. 

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TV Before Bedtime Impacts Kids' Sleep

Kids who watch violent media any time of day have more sleep problems.

Preschoolers who watch television, play with computers or play video games after 7:00 PM report more sleep issues such as repeated awakenings, nightmares and daytime tiredness. Watching violent content at any time was also associated with sleep problems. Having a TV in the child's room increased viewing of violent content. Nonviolent daytime viewing did not increase sleep problems.

PositiveTip: Carefully monitor and control the media your children view and play, and find positive substitutes for evening media use.

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Sitting 4+ Hours A Day Can Be Deadly

Watching more than 4 hours of TV a day dramatically increases premature death.

A study of nearly 9000 Australians compared those who watched 2 hours or less of TV per day to those who watched more than 4 hours. Those watching the most had a 46% increased risk in death from all causes, and an 80% increased risk for death by cardiovascular disease. This connection stayed consistent even after adjusting for other independent risk factors.

PositiveTip: Too much sitting is bad for your health. Remember to get up and move more, and do it more often.

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TV Time Can Cut Life Short

Couch potatoes beware - every hour of TV time may increase your risk of dying early.

Researchers in Australia followed the lifestyle habits of almost 9000 adults for more than six years. They found that each hour of daily TV viewing was connected with an 11% increased risk for death from all causes, an 18% higher risk for cardiovascular deaths, and even a 9% increase in death from cancer.

PositiveTip: The human body was designed for activity and movement. Avoid sitting for extended periods of time for optimal health.

Limit Kids Media for Their Good

The report from the Kaiser Family Foundation on media and sleep concludes their review with this statement:

William Dement, a professor at Stanford University and a leading sleep researcher has written, “…my most significant finding is that ignorance is the worst sleep disorder of all.” This review of the literature on sleep and media use among children indicates that while there are some things we do know about media and sleep, there is much more about which we are still ignorant.

It is extremely important to understand that all of the different types of media to which our kids are exposed can cause both measurable effects and other effects that we don’t yet understand.