American Academy of Pediatrics has warned against “background television,”
especially in homes with children under age 2, because it can harm children’s
cognitive functioning and social play. In a study, “Background Television in the Homes of U.S. Children,” in the November 2012 issue of Pediatrics (published
online Oct. 1), researchers conducted a survey to track children’s exposure to
background television on a typical day. They found the average child aged 8
is exposed to nearly 4 hours of background television over a 24-hour period.
Both younger children and
American children are exposed to more background television, at an average of 5.5
hours per day, and children from the poorest families were exposed to nearly 6
hours per day. Children in families who left the television on when no one was
watching, and children who had TV sets in their bedrooms, were exposed to more
background TV. The study establishes the pervasiveness of background TV in U.S.
homes with children. Study authors suggest attempts to reduce background TV can
start with simple steps like advice to turn off the TV when no one is watching,
or to turn off the TV at key points during the child’s day, like bedtime and
The American Academy of Pediatrics is an
organization of 60,000 primary care pediatricians, pediatric medical
subspecialists and pediatric surgical specialists dedicated to the
health, safety and well-being of infants, children, adolescents and
young adults. For more information, visit www.aap.org.