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Parents Can Successfully Set Limits on Children's TV Watching

6/14/2010

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends children older than 2 should watch no more than 1 to 2 hours of quality entertainment media per day. A new study has found that children whose parents set consistent rules about television use were less likely to exceed recommended screen time limits.

The study, “Influence of Limit-Setting and Participation in Physical Activity on Youth Screen Time,” published in the July print issue of Pediatrics (published online June 14), also found that children who were more physically active were less likely to exceed the recommended screen-time limits. Researchers surveyed both the parents and children in 5,685 households with 7,415 children aged 9 to 15 years. Children were asked about their screen time, physical activity and their parents’ rules regarding television. Parents were asked how often they set limits on their children’s screen time. 

Researchers found that more than 27 percent of youth aged 9 to 15 years exceeded the recommended limit of screen time, and that boys, black children and children from lower-income families exceeded this limit more than other populations. However, children who strongly agreed their parents had rules about television viewing time were less likely to exceed recommended screen time limits. Researchers also found that as children spent more time being physically active – both on organized sports teams and in free-time activities – they were less likely to exceed screen time limits. Study authors suggest that initiatives that encourage parents to set limits and that promote physical activity may help reduce screen time among children aged 9 to 15 years.

Editor’s Note: A related commentary, “What Shall We Call Them?” will also be published in the July print issue of Pediatrics and published online June 7. For a copy of this commentary, contact the AAP Department of Communications.

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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.