Thursday, May 9, 2013

Should Children Have a Television in their Bedroom?

There has been some discussion recently about whether or not little man should have a TV in his room eventually. I was very much against it because I would rather have him spend time reading or playing than glued to the television. Even if it was just on in the background, I think it's unnecessary. I don't have anything against him watching TV occasionally, but he can do that out in the family room. My dear husband was of the opinion that he should have one to watch when he goes to bed at night. So I decided to do some research about the subject, because who can argue against actual facts, right? Now mind you, I don't do this with every argument, that would be a little crazy (and besides I'd end up finding out I was wrong half the time). I just felt very strongly about this one.

             As technology invades our lives more and more, it is becoming very common for children to grow up with a television in their bedroom. The average American child between the ages of 8 and 18 watches about 4.5 hours of TV a day. Seventy percent of children have a TV in the bedroom and about one-third of every preschooler does as well. Is this simply a harmless entertainment option with no affect on our children or are there damaging side effects to this seemingly innocent device we are placing into their bedrooms? 

            An article in the New York Times states that  “a growing body of research shows strong associations between TV in the bedroom and numerous health and educational problems” Research shows that children with bedroom TV’s score lower on school tests, have more sleep problems, as well as having a much higher risk for obesity, smoking and the health problems related to obesity. It is recommended by the AmericanAcademy of Pediatrics that children under the age of two do not watch TV at all and that older children limit their screen time to two hours a day or less. This not only includes the television but also other electronic devices that most of us have around the house as well. 

            The most obvious problem when children have their own television in their bedroom is that parents simply can not monitor the amount of time that is spent watching TV as well as they can when the TV is in a central, family location. The TV causes distractions with homework and less time is spent reading. An article in the LA Times explains that kids with a bedroom TV not only spend more time watching television altogether, but compared to television watched in a family room, “the screen time a kid logs in his or her bedroom is linked hour-for-hour, to more belly fat, higher triglycerides and overall greater risk for developing heart disease and diabetes".

            While some parents have come to rely on the TV to babysit their young children when they need to get something done or as a way to get them to bed easier, watching TV right before bedtime has actually been shown to disrupt the child’s sleep. According to a recent study in Pediatrics, children with a bedroom TV were more likely to have daytime tiredness. Children also had more trouble falling asleep, more nightmares, and more awakenings if they watched TV at all in the one hour prior to going to bed.

Here are the main areas that a bedroom television is shown to negatively affect children:
  • weight
  • sleep disturbance
  • lower test scores
  • increased tendency for smoking
  • poor diet choices
            Of course, not all television is bad, and children can learn many things from educational programs. The key, though, is to limit time spent in front of the TV and to carefully monitor what our children are watching, as well as making sure they are getting plenty of physical activity. Having a television in their room makes this difficult to do and research has shown that it does negatively affect the children who are allowed to have a bedroom TV. 

I haven't shown this research to my husband yet, so I have no idea if it will change his mind on the subject or not. What about you, do you allow your children to have a TV in their bedroom?

photo credit: GregRob via photopin cc


  1. My 9 year old has been begging for a tv in her room. I have refused and still stand strong on that refusal! I have, however, allowed her to watch Netflix on the Ipad after she finishes homework, practices her guitar, and reads for 30 minutes. After reading this I'm starting to rethink that. I don't know that I should be letting her watch the show just before going to sleep. It has been used as an incentive to get all of her other work done...where's the balance?
    I found you on the Bloggy Moms May Hop. My blog is I hope you'll visit me :->

    1. It's hard to find the balance like you said, because kids still need incentives as well. It sounds like your incentive plan is working so far, though. Thanks for stopping by my blog! I will be sure to check out yours as well :)



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