TV is a central part of many children's lives -- even those that are still babies -- and parents seem to be making the problem worse.
Contrary to the belief that parents struggle to restrict their kids' TV time, researchers from the Kaiser Family Foundation report that many parents use TV and other electronic media to keep kids occupied, relaxed and happy.
The report is based on a national survey of over 1,000 parents with children aged 6 months to 6 years. Along with finding that many parents believe the TV has educational benefits and can teach positive behaviors, the study found:83 percent of children aged 6 and under watch TV, play video games or use the computer for about two hours a day61 percent of babies 1 year and younger watch screen media for an average of 1.2 hours a day90 percent of 4-6-year-olds watch screen media for two hours a day
The study found a correlation between parents' attitudes about TV and the amount of time their children spend watching it. For instance, children of those who believe TV helps learning watched an average of 27 minutes more a day than children whose parents believe TV mostly hurts.
Further, one-third of children live in homes where the TV is on most of the time. In these homes, children watch an average of 25 minutes more TV a day. Those with a TV in their bedroom watch 30 minutes more TV a day.
Other results from the survey include:19 percent of babies under 1 year have a TV in their bedroom55 percent of parents said they put a TV in a child's bedroom to free up other TVs in the home 39 percent of parents put a TV in a child's bedroom to keep them occupied while they do things around the house
The American Academy of Pediatrics advises that children under 2 not watch any TV, as during this time the brain is rapidly developing and needs back-and-forth interaction. They say older children should have access to electronic media for no more than two hours total a day.