Background Television Noise Is Harmful to Kids

African-American children are affected the most.

Posted: 04/24/2012 05:59 PM EDT

African-American children consume a lot of television and other forms of media than anyone else, studies have long said.  


And now a new study suggests that just having the television on in the background can be harmful.


Researchers from the International Communication Association found on average that American children are exposed to 232.2 minutes (almost 4 hours) of background television per day. But the rates for African-American children were higher than any other racial and ethnic groups. wrote:


What they found even more concerning was that kids under 2 and African-American children are exposed to 42 percent and 45 percent more background TV, respectively, than the average child.


“It’s particularly concerning because there is evidence this exposure has negative consequences for development,” says [Matthew] Lapierre [a doctoral candidate and lecturer at the University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg School for Communication]. According to the authors, these high rates could be the result of parents not counting background TV as exposure or thinking their kids are too young to be affected by it.


"This study should be a warning to parents and day-care 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 no matter how young they may be,” said Cynthia Stohl, the International Communication Association president and professor of communication at the University of California, Santa Barbara, in a statement.


Last year, researchers from Northwestern University found that children of color spend more than half their day consuming media content  —  an average of 13 hours a day using mobile devices, computers, TVs and other media, which is about four and a half hours more than white kids. They also found that African-American teens are more likely to have a TV in their bedrooms (which can have a negative impact on sleep) and to eat meals in front of the TV.


Past studies have suggested that watching too much exposure to media can make children more sedentary and gain weight, lower attention spans, reduce the number of quality parent-child interactions and make it harder for children to think, prioritize, understand, plan, remember and solve problems (cognitive skills).


It definitely makes you rethink how long the boob tube should be on.



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