How Just 1 Hour of TV Can Make Kindergarten Crappy for Your Kid

remote controlNot to freak you out if your kid is starting kindergarten this year, but you may want to look back at their toddler TV habits for a clue as to how they're going to do. A new study shows that for every hourly increase in daily television toddlers watch beyond recommendations, they do worse in kindergarten and get picked on more by their peers.

The study, which comes from the University of Montreal, found that the increased screen time at 29 months is linked to poorer vocabulary and math skills, poor motor skills, less classroom engagement, and "victimization by classmates." Study author Linda Pagni said it's the first study of its kind, and told Science Daily it "suggests the need for better parental awareness and compliance with existing viewing recommendations put forth by the American Academy of Pediatrics."


The good news is that the AAP recommends no TV for kids 2 and under, and no more than two hours a day for those beyond that, which is a lot of television. So if we're talking three, four, or more hours a day, then it's easy to see how the skills of children can be affected because they're staring at a screen for a good chunk of the day.

It's the social aspect of it, however, that surprises me most. I suppose they're all linked though, especially at that age, and if you're struggling in any of those areas, it can be viewed as a weakness by other children. Sad, but true.

We also know that performance in kindergarten can predict later success in school and in life, so this study is especially important. And the good thing is that this is something parents can change. While we often can't do too much about other factors that contribute to school readiness like socio-economic status or genetics, this is a simple step all parents can take to start their children's education off on the right foot -- just turn off the TV. For awhile anyway ... remember, there was also a recent study that says more TV when your kids are older may help them earn better grades? So don't throw the remote away or anything yet. 

Will this make you rethink how much time you let your kids watch television?


Image via espensorvik/Flickr

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