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TV & Your Kids — What You Really Need To Know

As I'm sure you keep hearing, television is having a serious moment. Shows are funnier, more dramatic, and more relatable. Although that "Golden Age" of talent and production probably isn't extending to your daily Sophia the First viewings, it's safe to say that TV is pretty much better than ever. And since TV is so great and wonderful, you might find yourself spending more time in front of your tv (or computer, tablet, phone — isn't technology great?). You might also, as some of my mom friends are, find yourself asking, how does TV affect your child later in life?

According to the University of Michigan School of Medicine, kids watch more TV now than they used to, averaging between 28 and 32 hours each week between live TV, recorded shows, video games, and other uses. Not only that, but 71 percent of 8 to 18 year olds have a TV in their bedroom, according to a survey conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation, making TV viewing easier and more accessible. Not only that, but 30 percent of kids eight to 18 responded to the survey that they had watched TV on a cell phone, tablet, or MP3 player, meaning they really can watch TV just about anywhere.

Before you move a TV into your kid's room or take away all their tech toys entirely, here's what you need to know about how watching TV can affect your child down the road — the good and the bad.


It Can Lead To Weight Gain

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Watching more TV can mean less physical activity and a less healthy diet. So, as the Harvard University T.H. Chan School of Public Health pointed out, more TV you watch, the higher your risk of weight gain and obesity.


It Provides Learning Opportunities

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According to a 2008 study published by University of Massachusetts-Amherst and University of California-Riverside researchers, watching TV can provide kids with learning opportunities, as well. Although researchers found these results worked best with parental assistance and co-viewing, kids who watched educational programming could in fact learn something from the shows being watched.


It Causes Difficulty Sleeping


Watching TV too close to bed can affect kids' sleep, according to a 2011 study published in Pediatrics. Make sure there's some time between TV and bed to avoid nightmares, insomnia, and carryover fatigue the next day.


It May Lead To Attention Issues


A 2004 study from Children's Hospital and Regional Medical Center in Seattle found that watching too much TV before age three can lead to attention problems down the line. Researchers found that attention issues increase by about 10 percent per hour of TV watched and that these issues usually present by about age seven. Consider limiting the amount of TV your youngest kiddos watch or not allowing it until later in life.


It Can Lead To Aggressive Behavior


According to the American Psychological Association (APA), frequently viewing violence on TV or in video games can lead to aggressive behavior, as well as potentially less empathy towards others.


It May Cause Bullying


A study published in the Journal of Communication found that even shows that are low in physical violence might be teaching kids that cruelty is OK. Attractive women or pretty girls are those most likely to bully on TV or in movies, and while completely eliminated those scenes isn't realistic, lead researcher Nicole Martins, assistant professor of telecommunications at Indiana University noted that showing kids that bullying is harmful to victims could help.