A study published in the Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics has found yet another reason why you must control screen time for your toddlers. Apparently, two and three-year-old kids who spend a lot of their day in front of the television are more likely to be bullied in later life.
The study reported that for each additional hour a child watched TV, there was an increase of 11 per cent in the amount of bullying they experienced in middle school. Without enough social interaction, they did not develop social skills at the same pace as their peers, and the emotional deficit made them more likely to be picked on for bullying in school.
This news comes on top of all the other fallouts of excessive TV watching that we already know about:
• Kids who watch TV for more than 4 hours every day are more likely to be overweight.
• Those that watch violent shows are more likely to develop aggression or a fear-driven mindset in later life.
• When TV characters indulge in risky behaviors, kids are naturally attracted to similar behaviors in real life.
• Children love commercials, though they often do not understand the purpose of them. They begin to want more and more things they see advertised on TV and develop an unhealthy materialistic mindset. They begin to see goods and products are sources of happiness.
• Television makes them less interested in outdoor activities, games and exercises that are incredibly important in this formative stage.
• Television replaces the need to socialize, and children have trouble making friends and maintain healthy relationships with their peers afterwards.
• It is impossible for children to stay immune to the negative `noise’ being telecast all day on television, and they carry the weight of these negative messages in their heart in the form of stress.
So what can parents do? The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has set some guidelines that will be of great help if you’re concerned about the amount of time your toddler is spending in front of the television:
Toddlers (up to 18 months): No TV time at all.
Toddlers (18 months-24 months): Some television watching, but only in the presence of adults.
Preschoolers: 1 hour a day, preferably of educational programming with the participation of adults.
5 year onwards: Use of all electronic devices, including television, should be restricted by a timetable. Certain areas of the house – like bedrooms – should be media-free zones. Parents should also set an example by following the ground rules on media consumption themselves. Family time should be encouraged with shared meals, shared conversations, board games and outdoor activities. Growing up with such rules in place make kids less likely to rebel and insist on as much TV, internet surfing or video game time as their friends are allowed at their own homes. For more information on the AAP guidelines for screen time for children, click here.