TV and Video Games: Yay or Nay

Television, video games and school work are generally not a good combination. Ask any mom who has growing children with eyes glued to the screen.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, children should spend only two hours a day watching TV. However, this is rarely followed in many households, especially when both parents are away at work for most of the day and the kids are left under the care of a nanny or an older sibling.

The MTV Effect

Too much TV and video games often lead to poor performance in school because of short attention span and the lack of physical activity. In certain cases, children develop Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), a medical and brain condition which can be triggered by frequent exposure to fast-paced plots in movies, TV shows and computer games[1]. Since they do not experience this kind of excitement and adrenaline rush in real life, they tend to lose focus and become immediately bored or restless.

Healthy Habits

Although media companies and manufacturers argue that their programs and systems aid in the development of motor skills and promote stress relief, there is no guarantee that children will in fact develop critical thinking skills by pounding on the video game controller or vegging out in front of the TV.

What parents can do instead is curb the watching and playing time of the kids and promote a healthy lifestyle with the following tips:

  1. Provide children with a variety of activities. When it comes to keeping kids busy, the television and computer are not the only things at home that can keep kids engaged. Books, puzzles, board games are excellent alternatives to the tube. Make these items easily accessible for your children, so they don’t feel the need to turn the TV on or reach for the video game controller the moment they feel bored. 
  2. Limit children’s time spent on using media. According to Business Week, children spend almost 8 hours a day using media. This has been attributed to the rising number of children who own mobile devices with built-in games (Angry Birds, anyone?). As a result, children spend less hours actually being children. They also become sedentary the moment they become glued to the TV screen and mobile devices.
  3. Encourage kids to go out and play. An inactive lifestyle is one of the leading causes of childhood obesity and like adults, kids need exercise to stay healthy. Children who spend a lot of time indoors need a breath of fresh air and a healthy dose of exercise. Encourage your child to interact with other kids, play catch in the park or just run around the neighborhood for fun. These things can help curtail the number of hours spent in front of the television or computer screen.
  4. Moderation is key – whether it’s television, computers or video games. While these platforms do have their merits, it’s still better for a child to be active and socialize with their peers. Not only does this promote a healthy lifestyle, it also helps build their social, emotional and intellectual skills that will help them transition into adulthood.

[1] Iowa State University (2010, July 7). TV viewing, video game play contribute to kids’ attention problems, study finds. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 13, 2011, from http://www.sciencedaily.com­/releases/2010/07/100706161759.htm

About the Author:

Pasha Lubeck is a single mom who lives in California with her two hyperactive boys and their fluffy cat Midnight. When she’s not chasing after them, she works as a part-time designer for Kichler Lighting.