Monday, August 8, 2011

Children, Sleep, and the Television

I saw this article in the journal Pediatrics. Researchers surveyed about 600 parents about their preschool children's sleep and sleep problems, their TV viewing habits, and the content of television shows. The more TV that children watched in the evening and the more violent content they watched during the day, the more likely they were to experience sleep problems. It did not matter whether the violent programs were animated or live-action, or whether the kids were watching the shows with their parents.

This makes sense to most people. When I watched the Wizard of Oz with my then five year old daughter, she had nightmares that night - my wife said, "Way to go, sleep doctor daddy!" What is even more interesting about this study is that most of the violent content watched was actually children's programming - but these shows were more appropriate for 7 - 12 year olds, rather than preschool age.

Another interesting point about the study was that about 8% of preschoolers with a bedroom TV were tired during the day, compared with only 1% without a TV in their bedroom.

I am a strong believer that kids, especially young ones, should not have electronic devices in their rooms - they make it hard for kids to fall and stay asleep. Also, do not let your preschool children watch scary television - even if you think they can handle it. Stick with shows that have a PG-Y rating.

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