If your child has a TV in his bedroom, he is not alone. According to the University of Michigan Health System, 71 percent of children between the ages of eight and18 have a television set in their bedroom. Unfortunately, as reported in the "New York Times," numerous studies have shown that placing a television in a child's bedroom may have more of an impact on a child's health and well-being than many parents suspect.
According to Dr. Barbara A. Dennison and colleagues in a study published in the June 2002 issue of "Pediatrics," your child is more likely to have a weight problem if she has a TV in the bedroom. In the study, the chance of a weight problem increased with each hour of TV watched each day, independent of the child's age, race or socioeconomic status. Researchers determined that having a television in a child's bedroom had a greater impact on a child's weight than did any other single factor studied.
Parents who put a television in a child's room may find it difficult to restrict viewing times, monitor viewing content and enforce a set bedtime. Watching television at night may delay a child's production of melatonin, making it more difficult for a child to fall asleep. Children who watch television alone may gravitate toward scary or unsettling programs that tend to cause nightmares.
If your child has a television set in his bedroom, he may not perform as well on standardized tests, according to Dina L. G. Borzekowski, EdD and Dr. Thomas N. Robinson in a 2005 Stanford University School of Medicine and Johns Hopkins University study. Children with television sets in the bedroom scored between seven and nine points lower on standardized reading and math tests than children without a television set in the bedroom. Despite scoring lower on standardized tests, these children actually reported more time spent on homework each day than children without a TV in the bedroom.
According to Tara Parker-Pope in the the March 4, 2008 edition of "The New York Times," a study involving adolescent children showed that those with a TV in the bedroom were more than twice as likely to smoke cigarettes as other adolescents. Of the 700 middle-school students studied, 42 percent of kids with a TV in the bedroom smoked while only 16 percent of kids without a TV in the bedroom smoked.
If your child has a television in her room, she may eat fewer fruits and vegetables, according to Daheia J. Barr-Anderson, PhD and colleagues in a 2008 University of Minnesota School of Public Health study. Children with a television in the bedroom also ate more fast food, drank more soda and other sweetened beverages and participated in fewer family meals than other children.
If you tend to watch programs with adult themes or content, a television in your child's room may work like a buffer by reducing your child's overall exposure to programming of a violent or sexual nature. The Kaiser Family Foundation reports that half of the parents of young children say that TV has a calming effect at bedtime. This may relate more to the benign content of some children's programs than the act of viewing itself.