Access to television has a direct association with children’s hours of viewing and school-related activity, according to a study from the School of Public Health. Children who do not have a television set in their bedroom spend about 40 minutes less per day watching TV or playing video and computer games than children who do; and they read or do homework about 20 minutes more per day if their parents also set limits on television viewing. The study results are published in the September/ October issue of Ambulatory Pediatrics (http://ampe.allenpress.com/ampeonline/?request=get-current-issue).
The study, which analyzed data from nearly 1,200 sixth- and seventh-graders from 10 Boston-area middle schools, found that the students averaged approximately three hours and 20 minutes per day of viewing time, including playing computer/video games, and spent an average of one hour and 36 minutes per day reading or doing homework.
More than half (54 percent) of the respondents had a television set in their bedroom, and 42 percent reported that their parents did not set limits on the amount of television they could watch. Students who regularly had dinner with their family spent half an hour less per day watching TV or playing computer/ video games compared with students who rarely dined with their family.
Jean Wiecha, deputy director of the Harvard Prevention Research Center on Nutrition and Physical Activity at the School of Public Health, said, “The findings in our study show that access to television increases use, and helps identify ways parents can reduce the time their children spend in front of the television or playing computer games. The study also supports American Academy of Pediatrics recommendations to make a child’s bedroom media-free. These findings are important because high television use is associated with childhood obesity, which is epidemic in the U.S. today.”