Watching TV Is Not Going to Ruin Your Kid's Life

TV setI fondly remember waking up early on Saturday mornings as a kid, grabbing my big bowl of Cap'n Crunch cereal, and plopping myself down in front of the TV for a marathon of cartoons. It was an awesome weekly ritual performed by myself and many of my friends.

Unfortunately, at the time, I was unaware of the ill effects of so much TV watching. I'm all grown up now and what is life like? I have a beautiful wife, two adorable children, and a fantastic house. My health is good, work is going well. I'm able to communicate and network effectively with people in society, as well as in business. If only I hadn't watched so much television as a child, my life could've turned out okay.

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Confused? Don't be. A recent study in Pediatrics found that children between the ages of 8 months and 8 years are watching a "startling" amount of television daily. We're talking four hours of background television daily. The researchers claim that this much television exposure (both direct and background) can seriously affect a child's attention span.

I claim this study is a total crock.

Yes, kids should be doing way more than just watching TV. They should be running around, reading, playing with action figures, etc. But that doesn't mean TV is the devil. These are the same kind of arguments that parents have when they link heavy metal music to their kids becoming serial killers.

I believe everybody is different and they have their emotions/patterns set within them. If they're already the type of kid who's perpetually lazy and has a short attention span, then yes, watching hours of prolonged television is only going to exacerbate that. But if they're a "normal" kid who enjoys all sorts of activities, no way is a few hours of "background noise" going to derail them.

We live in a technological society. There's just no way around it. You're reading this article right now while you probably have some music on in the background (or ... gasp ... maybe the TV!). Kids actually need to learn to deal with so much conflicting "noise," since that's what the real world is made up of these days.

Some adults actually prefer to have music on in the background while they work. It helps pass the time or refine their concentration. Instead of thinking that background television is going to distract kids from what they're doing, how about looking at how it's improving their multi-tasking skills?

Look, I'm not saying that you need to turn your television on 24/7 and your kid's going to be the next Einstein. But on the flip side, you don't need to freak out and think that even five minutes of the boob tube is going to completely rot their brains and ruin any chance of them getting into a good college one day. Well, unless they're watching Jersey Shore, that is.

Do your kids watch too much TV?


Photo via Alan_D/Flickr

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