Kids TV Time

How much time should children be spending in front of the TV?

Child watching TV
I am sure lots of parents ask this question, but from the research I have done, there is no definitive answer. The UK has no formal guidelines on the amount of time children should spend in front of the TV.

However, you might like to know, the US Paediatric guidelines recommend, children should spend less than two hours a day watching educational, non-violent programmes.

Is this too much time? Or do you feel, it would be ok for children to spend more time watching TV? Does it always need to be educational?

Personally, I think 2 hrs sounds a lot, until you maybe break it down into bite sized chunks of the day, then it doesn’t sound so bad. I don’t disagree with television, in fact, I believe there are some great learning opportunities that can be gained from Tv, but I do feel it needs to be moderated/time limited more.

Tv is not necessarily what causes harm to children. It is more about, while they are watching Tv, what are they missing out on, getting active, socialising, exploring, playing and having fun?

These activities of playing, exploring, being physically active, seeing friends, are all essential childhood activities, for the encouragement of healthy physical, social and psychological development.

How can children develop social skills if they don’t see and play with friends? How can they develop physical skills if they are not active?

According to one study of 5 year olds, 65%, watched 1-3 hours a day of Tv, 15% watched more than 3 hours a day and 2% watched no Tv at all. I don’t find these results surprising, though I do think 15% watching more than 3 hours a day of Tv is rather high and worrying.

How do we encourage our children to turn off the TV and go play? (Apart from the obvious answer of parents putting their foot down and telling children they have a time limit.)

But wouldn’t it be nice if the children chose to turn the TV off themselves?

  • How about making play more enticing – freedom of choice.
  • Getting active outside with a ball or bikes etc.
  • Create more family time, play games together.
  • Encourage children to invite friends round.
  • Suggest crafting ideas.
  • How about doing some science experiments.
  • Visiting the library to choose books, either story or informative.
  • Join a sports club….football, dancing, rugby, karate, swimming?
  • Gardening together.

If you have any ideas, please share them.

TV viewing time is a complex issue, there is no right or wrong, this is just my opinion on the subject. Please share your opinions, what are your thoughts?

13 thoughts on “Kids TV Time”

  1. I’m not keen on tv. i think has its uses but I don’t like to have it on much and we only watch certain things.

    I don’t want z to watch violent or adult themed programmes. I’m shocked at the content of some kids tv and films and sometimes wonder how they are rated.

    My boy is very much an outdoor type so luckily for me he isn’t too bothered about the tv…I’m hoping it continues!

  2. We do use it a bit. It’s useful first thing for early risers and when it’s too dark to play outside. I agree that you have to limit it and we are quite strict with that.

    TV programmes are proving more difficult as H gets older.

    He isn’t that interested in cbeebies anymore, but CBBC needs more policing as catering to a much wider age group.

  3. I think it can also depend on how long your child is awake for, as to their screen time – I know that seems odd, but my daughter used to be up at 6am, so CBeebies saved me in the mornings when I didn’t fancy painting at that time!

    You’re right, though, as I don’t see TV as damaging, more the things that they’re missing out on because of it.

  4. I think it’s a rather controversial topic to be honest. When we moved house (almost three years ago) we got rid of our old clunky telly and decided not to replace it with a flat screen as we had thought we would before the move.

    We got used to watching TV on iPlayer and DVDs via LoveFilm on the laptop, and didn’t miss the telly at all. This basically means we watch what we want, rather than what’s on, and aren’t sold to by endless adverts.

    As for the kids, they have their CBeebies/Peppa Pig, etc fix while I’m preparing their tea, and usually spend about an hour watching programs which I’m comfortable with.

    I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve had to use the TV as bribery many times in the past, and used it as a babysitter when I needed to get through the earliest of the baby days second time round.

    This will almost certainly be the case third time round too 😉

  5. Getting rid of sky tv has been the best thing we ever did. No more arguments on who watches what, because the programmes are simply not there to watch.

    We have Cbeebies on a bIt in the day and I do find some of it is educational. I also let the elder children watch Horrible histories on the iplayer, it is funny and ignites their passion for history.

    It has to be a balance and the parents have to be able to say “No” and turn off the goggle box, there are so many more interesting things to be doing x

  6. I don’t have problem with TV per say – but I don’t like to see my kids completely zone out to it. Time and content do need to be monitored, but there are some good programmes out there, especially for the preschool age group.

    It’s more difficult with my oldest (he’s seven) but he is becoming increasingly likely to choose a Discovery channel and watch a documentary about animals or engineering!

    And, I’d be lying if i said I didn’t use it as a babysitter sometimes. Nothing beats getting them outside, or doing a craft/art project though 🙂

  7. I will admit to the TV being on most of the day in the background. That’s not to say that Lucas sits there zoned out in front of it.

    A lot of the time you’ll see him enacting the scenes with his toys. I monitor what he watches but a lot of the programmes for kids nowadays are actually less violent that some of the stuff we used to watch e.g. Tom & Jerry which is now considered a classic and is never toned down when it’s shown on the TV.

  8. This is a very interesting article, we often have the same debate. TV and computer games are quite addictive (they stimulate the same areas of the brain as taking cocaine).

    Also I once read a study that said that for every hour of watching TV per day your child was more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD.

    But as you say, it can be educational. I think TV in moderation is the way forwards.

  9. We struggle with the same thing. Not just TV, but electronic media in general. Some days our kids have none, some days they watch quite a bit. Most days it’s less than an hour, often educational, and something that we’ve reviewed and feel like is appropriate.

    I do sometimes wonder, though, if my children aren’t MORE obsessed with the idea of getting “media” time than they would be if we were less restrictive about it.

    I do still think that less TV is better in the long run, though.

  10. My kids tend to watch CBBC for a bit when they come home from school/after school sports clubs.

    They both spend plenty of time outdoors so I’m not too worried – in fact there’s an excellent new Steve Backshall nature programme on at the moment which I even sat down to watch!

  11. It’s a tough one – I use tv to give myself a break! But I do agree that kids need to watch less and those are good ideas for getting out & about and away from the TV..

  12. We have a strict rule that no TV is allowed Monday thru Thursday on school days but they can watch a film every Friday after school and cartoons on Saturday mornings.

    Depending on the weather they might watch a bit more at the weekends.

    Since they know most schooldays there’s no TV they immediately get out their crafts and toys to keep themselves amused if they wake up early or after school.

  13. I have been thinking about this as I notice that L loves to watch the TV when it is on. She is five months. I usually have it on all day as background noise and a left over bad habit from the early days of long feeds.

    It is making me reassess this habit and want to change it. 3 hours sounds like a long time. I remember when I was small I was only allowed to watch TV after school not before and only BBC1 kids programs.

    I had free reign to play with what I likes including being outside which I loved. I think freedom is important for children’s play but this is sometimes hard when a choice might mean supervision of paints or joining a child outside when dinner needs cooking ect.

    It is a bit of a dilemma.

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