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Finally: What Scientists Say About Young Age and Too Much TV

For a parent, one of the few moments of peace and clarity that you can often get comes from the television. Your kids can enjoy watching TV and taking in all manner of shows for hours on end. Many parents introduce their kids to the TV from a young age and allow them to watch it more or less non-stop. However, while it might help to give you some peace and quiet to read a book, it also has some severe consequences.

Recently, experts at the Universite de Montreal’ School of Psychoeducation have found a worrying link between too much TV from a young age. Too much TV from age two can help to develop problems such as poor educational performance, ridiculous eating habits, lethargy and a lack of desire.

The new study carried out in Preventative Medicine, Isabelle Simonato and Linda Pagani, student, and professor, worked on the study. Looking at around 2,000 boys and girls born between 1997-1998, they found some interesting details out.

Followed from the age of five months old, their daily TV habits were reported from age two onwards. At age thirteen, they were then to report their dietary habits and their behavioral qualities in school.

What Does This Mean?

“Not much is known about how excessive screen exposure in early childhood relates to lifestyle choices in adolescence,” said Pagani.

“This birth cohort is ideal, because the children were born before smartphones and tablets, and before any pediatric viewing guidelines were publicized for parents to follow. They were raising their children with TV and seeing it as harmless. This makes our study very naturalistic, with no outside guidelines or interference — a huge advantage.”

Simonato added: “Watching TV is mentally and physically sedentary behavior because it does not require sustained effort. We hypothesized that when toddlers watch too much TV it encourages them to be sedentary, and if they learn to prefer effortless leisure activities at a very young age, they likely won’t think much of non-leisure ones, like school, when they’re older.”

The study showed that bad eating habits were commonplace, with an increase of 8% for every hourly increase seen from the age of age two come the time the child turns thirteen. From eating more prepared meats and cold cut meats to gorging on soft drinks and sports drinks, the problem was immediately easy to spot.

It also showed a 10% drop-off in those eating breakfast, and a higher Body Mass Index (BMI) by the age of thirteen. This also seen a drop-off in academic performance.

Watching tv with my pilates ball

So, the signals are clear from the study: children who are introduced to TV young and never moderate their TV usage are likely to have problems with their health, their determination and their motivational skills.

If parents want to try and do something good for their children, they should almost certainly look to tap into this. Notice a drop-off in healthy eating and/or academic performance? Then take the time to do something about it: curb TV habits, and watch the benefits!

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