Child care may dou­ble chil­dren’s screen time

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - LIFE - LAURA BUCH­HOLZ

NEW YORK: Think you know how much tele­vi­sion your child is watch­ing while you’re at work? If you’re not tak­ing the time they spend in child care into ac­count, you may be way off, ac­cord­ing to a US study.

Re­searchers from the Uni­ver­sity of Wash­ing­ton in Seat­tle found that on av­er­age chil­dren at cen­tre-based pro­grammes watch an av­er­age of about 0.4 hours of tele­vi­sion a day, while those in home-based pro­grammes watch 2.4 hours a day.

Th­ese were the find­ings of a tele­phone sur­vey of 168 child care pro­grammes in Michi­gan, Wash­ing­ton, Florida and Mas­sachusetts con­ducted by Dim­itri Chris­takis and Michelle Gar­ri­son, with the study pub­lished in the jour­nal Pae­di­atrics. “For some chil­dren, (child care) dou­bles their screen time,” Chris­takis said.

Pre­vi­ous stud­ies based on par­ents’ re­ports of their chil­dren’s TV watch­ing have es­ti­mated that at home, chil­dren watch up to two-and-a-half hours of tele­vi­sion a day.

That means some chil­dren are watch­ing five hours of tele­vi­sion a day, ac­cord­ing to Chris­takis – nearly half of their wak­ing hours.

Of the amount of time chil­dren in day care spend in front of the tele­vi­sion, Chris­takis said: “I don’t think most par­ents are aware.”

The re­searchers said that re­gard­less of what chil­dren are view­ing, stud­ies have shown that watch­ing tele­vi­sion can slow lan­guage de­vel­op­ment, shorten at­ten­tion span, de­crease cog­ni­tive de­vel­op­ment and con­trib­ute to obe­sity.

Tele­vi­sions are com­mon in a child care set­ting with 70 per­cent of home­based pro­grammes in the study us­ing tele­vi­sions with pre-school­ers, and 36 per­cent of cen­tre-based pro­grammes.

Chris­takis said that in 1970, on av­er­age, chil­dren be­gan watch­ing TV at four years of age and watched less than one hour a day.

To­day, chil­dren be­gin watch­ing at four months of age, and may be watch­ing up to four to five hours a day.

The Amer­i­can Academy of Pae­di­atrics rec­om­mends that chil­dren over two years of age watch no more than two hours of tele­vi­sion daily. – Reuters

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