In any number of ways, technology has improved our lives, and it’s certainly changing the lives of kids. The more hours a child spends in front of the computer and TV, the less time they are spending outside running around and playing, engaging in physical activities. A study published in the journal “Pediatrics” earlier this year, offers hope that the behavior of young people can be altered, and learned parents can play a role.
A telephone survey of 7,415 youth 9 to 15 years old revealed that when kids recognized their parents had rules about screen time, they were less likely to exceed those limits. Similarly, when parents stipulated those rules correctly, the kids were less likely to exceed those limits. Finally, the kids who followed the limited screen time rules the most, were those whose parents had consistent limits and the kids recognized consistent rules. In terms of screen time and physical activity, the research results bode well for parents hoping that less computer time means more exercise time: the probability of exceeding the screen time limits decreased when the children had participated in physical activity during the week previous to that being studied.
This is not the first study of this kind; the relationship between childhood behavior and screen time has been studied for a a long time. Back in 2001, a study of 1,197 Boston 6th and 7th graders published in “Academic Pediatrics” determined that their average screen time was 5.5 hours a day. This study also proved, it’s the parents who had the most influence on their child’s media consumption. If parents reduced their children’s access to TV and set rules, the children spent less time watching a screen.
Sadly though, the research seems to indicate that media usage has only increased since those days. A Kaiser Family Foundation Research Study from earlier this year looked at more than 2,000 kids, 8 to 18 years old. The study went an extra step in precise data collection by having 702 participants keep seven-day diaries. According to the study, the average home had four televisions, two computers, and two videogame players. Participants averaged seven-and-a-half hours of screen time, seven days a week.
Set some rules around screen time, and rather than just cutting back on the TV, carve more time for yourself in your child’s life.