Why Are American Kids Addicted to TV?

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 day
  • 61 percent of babies 1 year and younger watch screen media for an average of 1.2 hours a day
  • 90 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 bedroom
  • 55 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. 

Kaiser Family Foundation May 24, 2006 (Free Full-Text Report)

Yahoo News May 24, 2006

Dr. Mercola's Comments:

Unfortunately, many parents use TV to help manage their busy schedules, keep the peace, and facilitate family routines such as eating, relaxing, and falling asleep.

What most of these parents are oblivious to is the incredible harm and danger they are exposing their precious children to. I am not talking about electromagnetic radiation here but something far more dangerous. 

The vast majority of American children are being exposed to one of the most mind-controlling mediums ever developed by man. By active or passive participation in this process parents are allowing the following to occur in their children. TV will: 

What is not included in the above list is an increased susceptibility to reliance on drugs. How is that? Well, did you know that the United States and New Zealandare the ONLY industrialized countries in the world that allow direct-to-consumer (DTC) advertising of prescription drugs

Fortunately, New Zealand is considering a ban, but not the United States. So a typical 10-year-old in the United States will have watched more than 75,000 hours of TV of which a great deal has been supported by drug commercials.

Can you possibly imagine what that is going to do to their susceptibility to use these drugs when they mature into adults in the next 10 years? It will be a literal bonanza for the multi-national drug corporations as they harvest even more billions from their investment into this medium. 

Drug companies have hired the most clever marketing professionals in the world. They really understand how to manipulate reality to make purchasing their drugs the only logical solution for the inevitable health challenges that life throws our way. 

U.S. Senate records show 32,890 lobbyists were registered in 2005, three times the number a decade earlier. Many of those are former members of Congress or their aides. Annual spending on lobbying has grown from about $800 million in 1996 to about $2.2 billion last year.

Guess which industry has the most lobbyists? If you guessed the drug industry you would be correct.  

How else do you think they were able to manipulate Congress to allow them to advertise prescription drugs on TV? It was a major coup for them and has been paying off in spades. A Harvard study showed that for every dollar spent on DTC advertising, $4.20 was yielded in additional drug sales.

Well last year they spent about $4 billion to advertise to your kids on TV. So they generated about $16 billion in EXTRA revenue for this investment. Not bad for them but an absolute disaster for your kids and grandkids.

With these commercials, pharmaceutical companies have successfully expanded the definition of illness and those who now fear they will become sick from trivial or poorly understood disease. Their manipulative marketing techniques, combined with the pervasive corruption in the medical care system, has allowed drug companies to become firmly established as one of the most profitable industries on the planet.

However, let's assume that for some miraculous reason your children are not influenced by the drug commercials, as you are able to successfully ground them to reality.

Is this the only challenge they face? Absolutely not, as they are also exposed to the processed food industry's incessant barrage of temptations to consume their tasty junk food. This will, in turn, actually increase their risk for developing diseases that will then benefit from the use of drugs.

It is an absolutely vicious cycle. 

So what are your options? Obviously you will want to limit your child's TV watching to the absolute minimum. 

Personally, I watch about two to five hours of TV a week. I had stopped watching it for about 10 years, but now that I have an HDTV and HD programming, I just delight in the high-quality, near-real-life video feeds.

However, most of the stations I watch run commercial-free programming. When I watch those that don't, my hand is constantly on the remote ready to change the channel in a microsecond as soon as the commercial comes on. I simply refuse to watch most commercials.

So you might consider a similar path and serve as a role model for your children. Additionally, I previously compiled 20 practical alternatives to TV  so you can consider reviewing that list.

Related Articles:

How Much TV Does Your Child Watch?

Keep That TV Away From Your Baby!

One of the Worst Parenting Mistakes You Can Make

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