– EN Fitness & Wellbeing – Putting a TV in your kids’ bedrooms could be harming their physical and emotional development, according to child psychology experts.
Researchers from the University of Montreal found that watching too much TV early in life affects children’s weight, and causes poor eating habits and emotional and social difficulties when they reach adolescence.
“The early years are a critical period in a child’s development,” said Professor Linda Pagani, from the university’s School of Psycho-Education, who led the study. “Intuitively, parents know that how their children spend their leisure time will impact their wellbeing over the long term, and with TV being their most common pastime, it’s clear that the many hours they spend in front of the screen is having an effect on their growth and development, especially if the TV is in a private place like the bedroom.”
Professor Pagani and her team analysed data from 1,859 kids born in the Canadian province of Quebec between the summer of 1997 and the spring of 1998, collated as part of the Quebec Longitudinal Study of Child Development.
The results were damning – as the researchers found that children who had a TV in their bedroom at four years old were not just likelier to have higher body mass index when they reached the age of 13, but also exhibited higher levels of emotional distress, depressive symptoms, victimisation and physical aggression.
The psychologist said her research was not just applicable to TV, as in 2019 children have access to other screens like phones and laptops which may replicate the distracting effect of television, and advised following recent advice to ban screens from kids’ bedrooms.
“Having private access to screen time in the bedroom during the preschool years does not bode well for long-term health,” she added. “The children in our study were born at a time when television was the only screen in the bedroom. Today, given the portability of digital devices and the constant switching from one device to another, the guidelines of the American Academy of Pediatrics clearly have reason to encourage screen-free zones and screen-free locations at home, especially given the implications for the growth and development of children.”
Professor Pagani will give a talk on her findings at the International Convention of Psychological Science in Paris on Thursday (07Mar19).