The Remote Controls

Children are watching way too much TV. How much? The answer may surprise you

Nov 04, 2009 | By Jonathan Rosenbloom

Kids are watching more TV than ever, says a recent study of 6,700 young people. The study, conducted by Nielsen Company, finds that kids from ages 2 to 11 are watching the tube for a total of more than one day a week. TV's youngest viewers, children from 2 to 5 watch, on average, more than 32 hours a week. Kids 6 to 11 watch more than 28 hours. The reason for fewer hours for the older group: They are in school while preschoolers are often home during the day. The number of viewing hours is at an eight-year high.

Why So Much TV?

What's the reason for the increased tube watching? According to Patricia McDonough, a Nielsen senior vice president, more and more shows are aimed at kids. McDonough points out that video-on-demand is very popular among the youngest kids who watch their favorite shows over and over.

The report says kids are mostly watching live TV, but they're also watching taped shows on DVRs and programs on DVDs. Also, kids ages 6 to 11 play video games on a TV for an average of nearly two and a half hours each week.

What does all this viewing mean? Sitting in front of the tube could lead to weight gain since viewers could--and should--be doing something active instead. In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics--a group made up of doctors who treat children--recommends that kids under 2 should not watch TV at all. And kids older than 2 should limit their TV time to less than two hours a day.