TV Doesn't Belong In A Child's Room

Vijai P. Sharma, Ph.D

Television has no business being in a child's bedroom. A more appropriate place for a TV set is the family room.

According to one survey, two thirds of children 8 and older have a TV in their bedrooms. The TV is usually on at the mealtime. Some children watch it past their bedtime and often wake up in the middle of the night to watch some more. Many children turn into little insomniacs because they can't resist the temptation to watch their late night favorite program or can't stop playing video games. Parents are getting tired of battling in the morning to get them ready for school. When they get to school, their brains go into idle gear.

In one survey, 61% of the children say that their parents have no rules about TV watching. These parents don't impose any limits regarding TV time and they don't monitor the content of the programs. This is like letting a child drive a car without following any rules of safety. Children spend many hours in isolation watching TV. Very few children watch programs that are intended to enhance knowledge or to help them acquire academic or practical skills.

A Kaiser Family Foundation survey of 3155 children, age 2-18, shows that they spend five and one half hours, on average, with TV and/or computer. Twenty years ago, only 6 percent of sixth graders had TV in their rooms, compared with 77 percent today.

So, how does this level of TV exposure impact our children? One, children are living much more isolated lives than ever before. As they come home, they quickly disappear into their rooms forestalling any interaction or communication with parents. As parental involvement diminishes, some children are likely to be less emotionally attached to their parents. Without strong attachment, identification with parents becomes weaker. Without strong attachment and identification with parents, a child is less likely to imbibe their values and ideals.

Supporters of one theory say that television is a form of entertainment, nothing more, nothing less, just entertainment. They advocate the right for children to entertain themselves, asking how a little entertainment and exposure to fiction could harm a child. To a reasonable extent, the argument is valid, but when hours of such "entertainment" far exceed the hours of formal learning and performing social and personal activities, then a child is in trouble.

Unfortunately, the chief source of learning about the outside world for some children is through their television sets. A television, computer or a video game machine does not offer a child real interaction with real people. These devices don't provide a child a two-way human connection and thus don't teach him or her how to get along with others in the real world. Heavy exposure to such forms of media prevents a child from focusing on the real world and offers an escape into an artificial world where the rules of the game are simple and predictable. Reasoning, imagination or social problem-solving is hardly ever required in a two-dimensional world.

According to Stanley Greenspan, a child psychiatrist and author of Building Healthy Minds, an hour of television is adequate for children of all ages. Greenspan advises parents to never put a TV in his or her room. He says, "If you never put a TV in your child's room, you will never have to take it away." Greenspan advises parents to be wary when their child prefers to be with TV instead of with friends.

Keep the TV and the computer in the family area. Let children do their homework in an area where you can observe them. A child's bedroom should be for sleeping, not for living. If your child has practically started living in his or her bedroom, get him or her out into the living room. It can be a most helpful step in building strong family relationships and facilitating communication between you and your child.

A word of caution about the Internet. It is estimated that children between the age of 10 and 17 will spend nearly one third of their lives on the Internet, that is, 23 years and 2 months, on average, of their life! Fortino Group, a consulting firm in Pittsburgh claims that the teenagers of today will be more socially isolated and reserved because they will have 31 percent less face-to-face interaction compared to their counterparts of the previous generation. Therefore, parents should encourage them to participate in activities where they can meet other kids and adults.

Last but not the least, one in every five American children is overweight. Now, here is the good news from a recent research: Limiting the hours of TV and video games for 6 months in elementary school children led to a noticeable drop in body fat for some children.

Return to Self Help 

Copyright 2000, Mind Publications 


Click for Dr. Sharma's credentials
Dr. Vijai Sharma
Your Life Coach
By Telephone

Feedback- Let us know how we are doing

Terms and Conditions

Web site designed and maintained by Chanda Taylor