Two recent studies conducted recently found that long hours spent by children in front of the TV negatively affect kids' school performances and eating habits, promoting a preference for junk and unhealthy food. Both studies are due to be published in the US Pediatrics Journal and urge parents to restrict their offsprings full-time access to TV.
The first study was led by Dr. Iman Sharif, Associate Professor of Clinical Pediatrics at the Children's Hospital of Montefiore and the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City. He and his team found that children who are allowed to watch TV whenever, and for as long as they want to, have poorer school performances than their peers who do not spend too much time in front of the TV. Moreover, kids who are allowed to watch all types of TV programs without any restriction have even poorer school results.
"We found a relationship between watching TV for longer hours on school days and worse school performance. There was an even stronger relationship between kids who could watch R-rated movies or whatever they wanted on TV. They did worse in school," pointed out Prof. Sharif.
In order to find out how watching TV and video games affect school performances and results of children, researchers interviewed about 4,500 middle-school aged children. Scientists found that watching TV or playing video games during weekend did not influence their grades at school.
On the other hand, watching TV or playing video games during weekdays had a bad influence on kids' results at school. 50% of those who said they did not watch TV or play video games in week days said they had excellent school performances, as compared to only 35% of those who admitted they watch TV or play video games during week-time for 1 to 3 hours daily.
"Taking time away from homework results in poorer school performance. Not only does TV take time away from homework, it takes away from learning sports and learning how to be active to help maintain good health. It sets children up for a sedentary adult life," pinpointed Dr. Brenda Kohn, Associate Professor of Pediatrics at the New York University School of Medicine.
The second study was carried out by study author Susan Connor, from Rainbow Babies and Children's Hospital in Cleveland and her colleagues. Researchers in this study investigated how food ads on TV affect preschoolers and their eating habits. Results showed that the food-related advertisements are very likely to make kids addicted to specific brands and products.
"The majority of child-oriented food advertisements viewed seemed to take a 'branding' approach - focusing on creating lifelong customers rather than generating immediate sales. Promotional spots on advertisement-supported and sponsor-supported networks took similar approaches and used similar appeals, seeming to promote the equation that food equals fun and happiness," Connor's team wrote in the Pediatrics Journal.