Summer TV time- should parents set limits?


Ok, so full disclosure- I’m writing this post while I’m watching TV. With my 17 year-old daughter, my husband, and a friend of ours. The movie “Mrs. Doubtfire” came on and we got sucked in. In fact, the TV has been on all afternoon because we also watched an NBA finals game.

It’s summer. There’s no homework. It’s hot outside. Those are all reasons that the number of hours in front of the TV may increase for many families.

But how much TV is too much? According to the at new study to be published in the June issue of Pediatrics, the journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), children older than 2 should watch no more than one to two hours of entertainment media – and they mean quality media- per day.

It sounds impossible. Kids love to watch TV, videos, movies. They’d choose to sit in front of the TV before just about anything else. It keeps them occupied, so it’s hard to say no when you need some time to get things done.

The TV habit, however, is created when parents decide to relinquish control of TV time and let the kids lead the way. A new study found that children whose parents set consistent rules about television use were less likely to exceed recommended screen time limits.

The study also found, and no surprise here, that children who were more physically active logged fewer hours in front of a screen.

Researchers asked both parents and children ages 9-15 in the study group to answer questions on the number of hours they watched tv, physical activity, and about limits set on screen time.

Researchers found that more than 27 percent of the kids in the study logged in over the  recommended limit of screen time. Boys, black children and children from lower-income families exceeded this limit more than other populations.

But the kids who answered “strongly agree” on the survey when asked if their parents set down rules about TV viewing were less apt to exceed the recommended limits.

The study also showed that children who spent more time being physically active – both on organized sports teams and in free-time activities – were less likely to exceed screen time limits.

Need some help? This is what worked for me.

  • Talk to your kids about the three shows they like to watch, and plan a time to make those shows available during the day. And no more.
  • Turn off the TV. It sounds simple, but in many homes, once the TV is turned on, it stays on all day.
  • Model non-tv watching for your kids. Let them see you reading a book.
  • Turn on music as background while the kids are playing.
  • Set a timer for TV time; be firm and turn off the TV when time’s up.

Do you have tips for limiting TV time? What do you think about the recommendations set by the AAP?

Read more TV tips from the AAP.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here