Consider this item: A new study says youngsters who spend more than 90 minutes in front of the television sleep less. By “youngsters,” they mean both pre-school and school-age kiddies.
The study, published in JAMA Pediatrics, found children who watched TV for 1.5 hours or more a day had shorter sleep duration at baseline. Children who reported increased TV viewing over time from less than 1.5 hours per day to 1.5 or more hours per day reported a reduction in sleep at follow-up visits.
We kept our boys away from the television until they were roughly a year old, and we monitor their current TV time carefully. That said, television viewing hardly dictates sleep cycles in our home. Play time does. So do the hours spent monkeying around with their cousins, bouncing on the trampoline or playing Viola Swamp with their Daddy. Don’t ask about the last one. I usually end up battered if not bruised, but my boys get a good workout.
We live in a “scare me” era, a time when the news feeds us a steady stream of studies meant to alarm us. The intentions are often noble, but parents must process them through their own experiences. And the more shrill the warnings, the louder my Spidey Senses tingle.
Regarding the new TV study … what other factors are in play? Are the children equally active? Are their diets similar? Do they come from stable families? Are there other elements that could impact sleep patterns? What kind of TV content is being watched? Surely old-school Disney films are different than today’s fast-paced Kung-Fu Pandas and Turbos.
The American Academy of Pediatrics offers a more general, but still helpful, tip regarding screen time: “children age 2 and younger avoid exposure to any media and that for older children television time be limited to 1 to 2 hours per day.” That’s a policy that sounds both smart and workable in the modern parenting framework.
Do you see any connection between screen time and Zzzzzz? Do these studies ever change your parenting rules?