Daycares differ in TV time

By • Published: February 25th, 2010
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

How much television does your child really watch each day?

Researchers writing in the journal Pediatrics say preschool kids and toddlers in home-run day-care programs watch a lot more TV than those at day-care centers.

One-hundred-sixty-eight child-care providers in Florida, Washington, Massachusetts and Michigan answered questions in a phone survey about how frequently children in their care watch television and how many hours they watch daily.

Results showed preschoolers at home-based day care watch an average of two-point-four hours per day, two hours more than kids in centers. Toddlers watch one-point-six hours daily in home-based day care, compared with point-one hours for those at regular centers.

In some cases the education of the providers made a difference. In home-based programs, caretakers with college degrees allowed kids to watch less TV.

The researchers said kids should have limited television time so they can make friends, grow socially and develop language skills. They urge parents to ask kids’ caretakers how much screen time the kids get each day so they can adjust television watching at home if needed.

According to the Nemours Foundation, children who watch more than four hours of TV daily are more likely to be overweight. Depictions of violence, substance abuse and racial and gender stereotypes also can be harmful for kids. The foundation recommends no TV watching during meals and homework time, and making kids’ bedrooms TV-free zones.

Getting off the couch and playing with toys or outside will help keep your kids’ brains growing and their bodies fit.