Why Dads Shouldn’t Take Those Scary TV Studies Seriously

Take TV studies with grain of saltI’m no scientist, but as a dad I’ve learned to take the latest studies with a grain of salt. Sometimes a whole container of Morton’s Kosher Salt.

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?


  1. Maureen Toto says

    I absolutely agree. Who comes up with this nonsense? Dr. Oz is a perfect example. Every day he has a miracle cream, vitamin, food or drink and exercise. It is a joke. Nobody comes on Dr. Oz’s show and says “hey” I tried it. Guess what, it doesn’t Work. What now guru. Who made him Mr. Magic. His shows are full of bunk and all the products are grown somewhere around the world. The seed of this and the flower of that. Give me a break. I wasn’t born yesterday. But, money is made since people run out and buy it. Personally I’m tired of all these tests that prove NOTHING. Besides the price triples for these products once they appear on his show. GO AWAY DR. OZ.

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