• Feb 22, 2016
  • by Tomi Heard

 Just how much television should a child watch? We wondered the same thing so we decided to see what the experts have to say on the matter.

When I was growing-up, time spent watching television was monitored closely, as was sitting too close to the TV, eating near it, or even standing near it.

It was more about the time being spent together as a family rather than the television itself being the main focus, as seems the case these days.

With the advance of technology, television is now broadcast on multiple devices, which means babies are exposed to more television shows than ever before, which means babies are watching television more now than ever before.

According to a Huffington Post article written by New York Times #1 Bestselling Author and Empowering Neurologist David Perlmutter, M.D. “by the time “the typical American child finishes elementary school, he will have witnessed 8000 murders on television, while 79 percent of Americans feel that TV violence helps precipitate real-life violent behavior.”

Furthermore, “The average American child witnesses 20,000 30-second television commercials each year.”

How Much Television Should Your Child Be Watching in 2016?

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends kids two or older watch now more than two hours of television per day.

And while there are no set guidelines, most of the articles I reviewed agreed; 4 hours of television exposure for a child is way too much.

But get this; children on average today watch four hours per day!

This should come as no surprise and is a direct result of children being exposed to more devices and platforms broadcasting increasing amounts of cartoons, sitcoms, movies, and games to play.

One thing to consider; the type of television shows your children watch should be taken into consideration.

No child should be exposed to 8000 murders, many seen on cartoons, by the time they hit middle school.

Anyway, we’re going with what the AAP recommends, a two hour limit seems like a reasonable limit to set and enforce, for any child.

Tips on How to Ensure Your Child’s Television Time Limit

Here are some simple steps you can take to help keep a two hour TV time-limit for the children in your household, while keeping them from getting bored:

  1. Monitor TV time (parent): You set a two hour limit so why not have a whiteboard or chalkboard that will help monitor TV time?
  2. Read a book: A child’s brain needs proper stimulation in order to grow and develop properly and books are a great way to provide it.
  3. Play outdoors: As the amount of time children watch TV increases, their time spent outside decreases. Exercise plays a critical role in a child’s development and will continue to do so throughout their entire life.
  4. Play board games: Board games also offer brain stimulation as well as fun. Unfortunately, many children today have never even played a board game before.
  5. Play a musical instrument: For many kids, playing an instrument in school band helped increase grades and overcome social interaction problems.
  6. Get crafty: Crafts are a great way to keeps away from the TV while again getting them to use their brains in a positive way, provided the crafts are interesting and fun enough to hold their interest. So get crafty mom and remember the boys may not like all the girly crafts and vise-versa.
  7. Play sports – The benefits of a child playing sports are numerous, with the top being; exercise, learning teamwork, learning to obey rules, improving learning skills, improving motor skills, increases social interaction with kids their own age, and more.

These are only some of the ways to make sure your kids are watching two hours or less per day of television.

Notice that each one offers some form of positive stimulation and play, with all making a child think in some capacity.

Television requires no thinking really, other than to follow a plot. And the stimulation provided can actually be a disservice to our children.

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David Perlmutter, MD, FACN, ABIHM, Board-Certified Neurologist