Study associates heavy TV use with small kids' reading delays
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
October 29, 2003
by Siobhan McDonough
WASHINGTON - One-third of children 6 and younger have TVs in their rooms and
a similar proportion live in homes where a television is on most or all the
time, a study says.
Tuesday's report, based on a survey of parents by the Kaiser Family Foundation
and Children's Digital Media Centers, also found that kids 6 months to 6 years
spend about two hours a day watching television, playing video games or using
That's roughly the same amount of time they spend playing outdoors and three
times as long as they spend reading or being read to.
In those "heavy TV households," 34 percent of children ages 4 to 6 can read,
compared with 56 percent in homes where the TV is on less often.
"Watching TV is far inferior to playing with toys, being read to or playing with
adults or talking with parents," said Dr. Henry Shapiro, chairman of
developmental and behavior pediatrics at the American Academy of Pediatrics.
"Watching TV without a parent is a junk experience, especially for young
The report found that 27 percent of 4- to 6-year-olds use a computer each day,
spending an average of one hour at the keyboard.
Among kids in that age group, the report said half have played video games and
one-quarter play several times a week or more. In a typical day, 24 percent of
boys played video games compared with 8 percent of girls.
Despite the heavy media exposure, the report found that reading continues to be
a regular part of many children's lives. Almost 80 percent of those 6 and under
read or are read to every day. Still, the report said, children spend only 49
minutes on average with books per day compared with 2 hours and 22 minutes in
front of a TV or computer screen.
The report found that parents have a largely positive view about TV and
computers - 72 percent say computers mostly help in children's learning and 43
percent felt that way about television. Twenty-seven percent said TV mostly
hurts kids' learning and 21 percent said it doesn't have much effect one way or
* How much TV do you watch a day? What about your kids? When and why do you turn
Share your thoughts on
NewsTalk. Responses will be published on tomorrow's Opinion page. A sample will
be selected to offer a range of opinions.
Please include your name, a phone number for verification and information about
yourself, such as your occupation. Comments should reach us by noon.