By Jessica Kelmon
The average person will watch nine years of TV. Nine. Years.
And it starts early. The average American youth spends roughly 900 hours in school each year — and about 1,200 hours a year watching TV. (To do the math: 1,200 hours is 150 school days.)
Not cringing yet? In one study, kids ages 4 to 6 were asked whether they'd like to spend time with their dad or watch TV — 54 percent of them picked pixels over pops.
The stats, compiled by Statistic Brain and culled from a Neilsen survey are an unsettling reminder of the monumental space TV takes up in our children's lives.
Along with these sobering stats, there's an abundance of additional research that shows a link between having a TV in a child's room and their health and academic success. Spoiler alert: it's not good news.
An estimated 71 percent of American kids ages 8 to 18 have a TV in their room. One study found 70 percent of third graders had bedside boob tubes. My childhood self is envious: as a kid, I campaigned relentlessly — and unsuccessfully — for a TV in my room. (I did, however, wrangle a red plastic lips phone.) And yet both of my brothers got in-room TVs. My partner also grew up with a TV in his room. All three boys were gamers — and I think these personal TVs were really strategies for getting Duck Hunt and Donkey Kong (and their infernal electronic beeping) out of the living rooms.
Turns out, this scenario may be pretty typical — the boys getting TVs, that is. A longitudinal survey out of Dartmouth — a telephone survey of 6,522 boys and girls ages 10 to 14 — asked specifically whether kids had TVs in their bedroom. In the first survey in 2003, 59 percent of kids had TVs in their room. The TV-havers were predominantly boys, minorities, and children in families of lower socioeconomic status.
Here's the really bad news: researchers followed the kids and their parents two and four years later and discovered a TV in your bedroom is linked with both being overweight and continuing to gain weight. Two years in, kids with TVs in their rooms reported higher BMIs. After two more years, their BMIs had grown again. What's particularly noteworthy is that obesity isn't linked isn't to the hours of TV being watched. It's to the presence of the TV in their room.
Why? The study authors speculate that these kids see more junk food TV ads or have their sleep patterns disrupted by the light TV emits. Certainly, having a TV in a child's bedroom sets kids up to be sedentary and isolated — choosing, day after day and hour after hour, to be alone and immobile — an unhealthy way of life for any child. A private television's connection to childhood obesity, the researchers observed, suggests that removing TVs from kids' rooms may be "an important step in our nation's fight against child obesity."
Older studies reveal more troubling TV trends. Kids with TVs in their rooms read less, score lower on tests in school, tend to have sleep issues, and may be more likely to smoke in adolescence.
Before parents who've never permitted a big glowing blue box, LCD, or flat screen into their child's sanctuary congratulate themselves for standing firm, consider this: tablet ownership in families with young kids has exploded. In 2011, 8 percent of all families had iPads; in 2013, that figure was 40 percent, according to Common Sense Media. What's more, as of 2013, 75 percent of children 8 years old and younger have access to a smartphone or a tablet. All of these findings add up to the fact that it's never been easier — TV or no TV — for children to be transfixed by endless hours of videos on YouTube, TV shows on Hulu, and movies on Netflix from the comfort of their rooms.
What will be the outcome for this screen-saturated generation? Stay tuned.
Sign up for our newsletter and we'll send you more
insights to help you help your child succeed.
Thank you! You will begin to receive newsletters from us shortly.
Great work! Only one more step. Now we just need you to verify your email address. Please click on the link in the email we just sent you to complete your registration.
Great work! Only one more step. Now we just need you to verify your email address. Please click on the link in the email we just sent you to submit your review.
Please click on the link in the verification email we just sent you to complete your change of email address.
Whoops! It looks like we still need to verify your email. To do so, please click on the link in the email we sent you. Can't find the e-mail? Click the button below and we'll send you a new one.
Thanks for registering. Welcome to GreatSchools, the largest online community committed to improving educational outcomes through parental involvement.
Thanks for verifying your updated email address.
Oops! You haven't verified your email address yet. To do so, please click on the link in the email we sent you. Can't find the email? Click the button below to receive a new one.
Oops! That email verification link has expired. Please click the button below to receive a new one.
Create an account to submit your answers.
Sign in with an existing GreatSchools account or using Facebook:
Your review has been posted to GreatSchools.
Share with friends! Post your opinion of on Facebook.
Welcome to GreatSchools!
For principals and school officials, we offer a special Enhanced School Profile (ESP) which allows you to update and add information about your school, as well as respond to reviews. If you are a school official, click Continue to start.
Please note that it can take up to 48 hours for your comment to be posted to our site. While you're here, we'd like to invite you to fill out a survey on your school's programs, activities, and extracurriculars. It only takes a few minutes and will help parents get a full picture of your school.
Get started now! You have successfully registered and can now start updating your Official School Profile. The information you provide is extremely valuable in helping parents and students learn more about your school, so thanks for taking the time!
Thank you for registering as a school leader. We just need to verify your email address. We've sent you an email - please click on the link in that message to get started editing your school's information!
Thanks! We just sent you an email – please click on the link in the email to post your answers.
Get timely updates for , including performance data and recently posted user reviews.