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Background Buzz: Another Reason to Turn Off the TV

Especially during long summer days when kids take refuge from the heat inside, parents should be concerned about more than how much television their children watch. They also should pay attention to how much TV their children hear.

In the first study of its kind, a report last year warned that children from the age of 8 months to 8 years are exposed to nearly four hours of background TV per day. The paper, presented at the International Communication Association’s annual conference, urged parents to be more vigilant about the background buzz at home.

“Considering the accumulating evidence regarding the impact that background television exposure has on young children, we were rather floored about the sheer scale of children’s exposure,” said study author Matthew Lapierre of the University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg School for Communication.

Previous research has shown that high exposure to background TV has been linked to poor performance in cognitive and reading tasks in children.

“We need to take notice of the dramatic levels of American children’s exposure to background television,” said Cynthia Stohl, ICA president and a professor of communication at the University of California, Santa Barbara. “This study should be a warning to parents and daycare providers to shut off the television when no one is watching, and certainly to consider the consequences of having a television in a child’s bedroom.”

The American Academy of Pediatrics strongly discourages screen time for children ages 2 years old or younger, and encourages interactive play. For older children, the Academy advises no more than one to two hours per day of educational, non-violent screen time, including television.

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Tags: Education, Featured Story, Parenting

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