Kids glued to the TV

The Media and Sleep

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Kids glued to the TVThe average number of hours that children over age five spend watching television has only changed a little in the past generation.  However, among very young children, television and video/DVD viewing has increased dramatically.

A report from the Kaiser Family Foundation reports:

“the average age of beginning to regularly watch television, which had been almost 3 years old in 1961, has now declined to just 9 months old. There has also been a considerable increase in the extent of other forms of media use, including Internet use and games, nonexistent a generation ago, and also phone use, which has ballooned with cell phones, cheaper phone rates, and text messaging. All told, children age eight and over were found in 2005 to consume an average of an additional hour of media content per day compared to 1999; and an average of one-fourth (26%) of their media use time was spent “media multitasking,” or using more than one medium at a time.”

Since electronic devices have become more affordable, many children have a television, computer, or private phone in their own bedroom. This change in the location of media use over the past 25 years has made it possible for children’s media use to be more and more outside parental monitoring of both use and content.

The past generation has seen a gradual shift in TV and movie content — including children’s material — displaying more and more conflict and violence. TV programming has also become significantly more sexualized and commercialized. Infants, toddlers and preschoolers are absorbing this violent and sexualized content while watching more hours of media than ever before.  

Times have certainly changed regarding the availability of ways to stream entertainment into our kids’ lives at even the youngest ages.

In a dream, in a vision of the night, when deep sleep falls on men as they slumber in their beds, he may speak in their ears… Job 33:15,16 (NIV)

Author

Gary L. Hopkins, MD, DrPH, MPH is currently an associate research professor at Andrews University in Berrien Springs, Michigan where he is also associate director of the Institute for Prevention of Addictions, Director of the Center for Prevention Research and Director of the Center for Media Impact Research.