Preschoolers learn by imitating others. So is it any wonder that if the average preschooler spends 4.5 hours a day (way to much!) in front of a TV, that the content would teach him or her a thing or two?
A study reported in Pediatrics, looked at 617 families in terms of the impact of TV viewing on preschoolers. Apparently, shows like Veggie Tales may not only breed a love for vegetables, but other people as well. Here is what they found.
When parents changed the content of what preschoolers were watching away from violence and aggression, the preschoolers’ behavior improved. Not only did they see a decline in aggression and being difficult, but they also saw an improvement in social behavior towards others (empathy, helpfulness, respectful, sharing and concern for others). And the impact of that change remained 6 and 12 months after the changes were made.
Important to note was that parents did not change the amount of TV viewing, only the content.
Remember, the recommendation for hours of TV viewing for preschoolers is less than 2 hours every day. So even though the number of hours watched was too high (a contributor to childhood obesity), changing the content made a difference in behavior.
And low income boys in the study who watched television the most, benefitted the most.
The take aways for parents:
1) Provide children with kind, compassionate role models on TV–do away with aggression and violence and you will see an improvement in behavior.
2) Monitor the hours of TV watched. Even though the study did not decrease the amount of TV, the conclusion is clear–what kids watch influences their behavior and too much screen viewing is linked to childhood obesity.
Parents, this is simple change with huge benefits. Monitor what your children are watching!