How Many Hours Does the Average Child Watch TV?

Written by kona gallagher
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How Many Hours Does the Average Child Watch TV?
(Diego Cupolo)

The amount of television children watch has long been a hot-button issue. Given that a 2006 study by the Kaiser Family Foundation shows that 75 per cent of children under 6 years old watch some TV in a given day, parents are concerned about the amount of television their children are watching.

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The Kaiser Family Foundation study discovered that children age 6 and under who watch television spend an average of one hour, 18 minutes doing so. If you add in DVD viewing, the time jumps to approximately two hours and 37 minutes per day. Children 8 to 18 spend nearly four hours in front of the television, according to the study.


In our technology-driven society, more media use by parents translates to more media use by children. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, with video games and computers in nearly every home, total "screen time" for children with this media goes up to nearly four hours and 30 minutes per day.


Many parents allow babies to watch television on the basis that it is educational. However, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends no screen time for children under 2 years old. The AAP says that because babies learn language through two-way communication, exposure to television leads to a reduction in communication, resulting in lower language skills. The AAP's study found that each hour of television per day results in a 2.68 decrease in a baby's language score.


While it is not recommended to expose children under 2 years old to any television at all, after the age of 2, parents can introduce them to one to two hours of quality programming. The Nemours Foundation says that, in moderation, television can be educational in addition to entertaining, stating that "preschoolers can get help learning the alphabet on public television [and] grade-schoolers can learn about wildlife on nature shows."


When it comes to allowing your children to watch television or other screen media, moderation is key. Excessive viewing habits (more than four hours per day) can interfere with other aspects of a child's life, such as homework, socialisation and physical activity.

Expert Insight

Experts have been at odds when it comes to television and children. Some say that it shouldn't be allowed at all, while others say that parents need to pay strict attention to what their children watch and for how long. The key for parents is to use television as an occasional source of entertainment and not as a constant babysitter.

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