Watching TV or hearing the television in the background isn't okay for young kids

By Natasha Persaud

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The average child (ages 8 months to 8 years) is exposed to nearly 4 hours of background television daily, according to a 2012 Pediatrics study—and it’s likely hurting his health.

Having a TV on in the background has been linked to reduced performance on cognitive tasks, a poor level of play, and lower quality parent-child interactions. Kids who watch a lot of TV also may be more prone to obesity and poor grades, according to previous research. So it makes sense to limit your child's screen time—but how?

Setting firm TV rules for kids and reinforcing them consistently is key, according to a 2010 study published in Pediatrics. Unfortunately, not many parents do that. The study, which analyzed information from more than 7,400 kids aged 9 to 15 and their parents, found that fewer than half the adults said they always or often regulated their kids' TV-watching.

 These tips from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) can help:

TV Rules

  • Create a rule that keeps screen time (including video games) to one to two hours a day maximum—but discourage any viewing for kids under age 2. Most shows should be informational, educational and nonviolent.
  • Make kids aware of the rules. Put a sign or a timer next to each TV, if necessary.
  • Keep TVs out of the bedroom and off during mealtime and family time.
  • Turn off the TV when no one is watching
  • Avoid using TV time as a reward or punishment, since it makes screen time seem overly important.


REMEDY Kids, Fall 2010

Lapierre, M. et al. "Background Television in the Homes of US Children." Pediatrics, originally published online October 1, 2012.

Publication Review By: the Editorial Staff at

Published: 17 May 2011

Last Modified: 06 Nov 2014