Are your kids watching too much TV? Maybe it’s because …

Posted on Fri, Aug 23, 2013

Yaletown Counselling, Couples Therapy, Couples Counselling, Anxiety, Depression… You watch too much TV.

The journal Pediatrics recently published an article suggesting that the variable that best predicts children’s entertainment consumption (TV, DVD, etc.) is the amount their parents consume.  

This study sampled 1550 parents (and their children - aged 17 or under).  The average daily parental consumption was approximately 4 hours, while the average consumption for kids was broken down by age groupings.  Parents reported that children in the 5 and under group watched approximately 2.3 hours per day; 6 – 11 year olds watched 2.8 hours per day; and the 12 – 17 year olds consumed 3.3 hours per day.  Interestingly, the 12 – 17 year-olds were given the opportunity to track their own usage and reported much higher usage than their parents were aware: their self-reported average daily entertainment consumption was 4.1 hours per day (approximately 50 minutes longer than their parents were aware). 

Another interesting note: those parents who watched more than 4 hours per day had kids who consumed above the average as well.  Every hour above four represented an extra half-hour for their children.

Pediatricians have set TV viewing guidelines for kids at a maximum of two hours per day.  As we have heard for many years, high levels of TV consumption have been previously linked to obesity, poor restorative sleep, and diminished academic performance. 

And because all kids are hypocrisy experts, our telling them one thing and doing the opposite is generally a recipe for disaster.  They notice … and they LEARN. 

Why do most people watch TV?  Generally people say they use it as a way to relax but it is also an avoidance tool.  More specifically a way to avoid the unpleasant: tasks, thoughts, emotions, responsibilities, etc.  Our behaviours can become their behaviours. 

Learning to connect instead of avoiding

Getting away from the TV is a great start, but what we replace this time with is critical.  When we use this time in a thoughtful and productive way (which can include relaxing!), we are teaching our kids to be more engaged in their worlds, as opposed to passively plugged into the world of entertainment.

Jeff Ross, MA RCC

Resonate Wellness

Jeff is a Registered Clinical Counsellor and sees clients in Vancouver (Yaletown) and North Vancouver, BC, Canada.  He supports individuals with such issues as depression, anxiety, stress management, relationship issues, grief and bereavement, career and educational issues as well as growth and development.  In addition he also does couples counselling / marriage counselling.

If you have a comment or question about this post or any other, please feel free to join the discussion or send him a private and confidential email.  Let us know what Resonates with you!

Topics: Being Present, Thriving, Technology, Exercise, Health