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Health & Parenting

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When TV Becomes Kids' Nanny

Report: Parents Often Use TV to Help Manage Their Kids

TV Always On continued...

The report notes that the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends "no screen time for babies under 2" and "no more than one to two hours per day of screen media for children 2 and older."

The Kaiser Family Foundation also held focus group sessions in four U.S. cities to talk about TV with parents of babies and young kids. In those focus groups, many parents said TV has positive benefits for their kids.

For instance, 38% said they thought watching TV "mostly helps" children's learning while 31% said it "mostly hurts" kids' learning. Twenty-two percent indicated that TV didn't make much difference in kids' learning.

What's on the Tube?

More than eight in 10 parents reported having rules about what their kids could and couldn't watch on TV. Most also had rules about kids' use of computers and video games.

Viewing habits varied widely. For instance, one mother in a focus group said she let her child, who was 1-3 years old, watch the crime show CSI with her. Another reported watching 20 minutes a day of educational TV with her child.

Two-thirds of parents said they had noticed their child imitating a positive behavior from TV, such as sharing. More than one in five (23%) said they had noticed their child imitate an aggressive behavior from TV.

More than half of the parents (53%) said TV calms their child down; 17% said TV excites their child.

Parents sometimes shifted their TV strategies based on their kids' behavior. For instance, one mother reported not letting her daughter watch ER any more after the little girl tried to give her younger brother CPR.

1 Mom's View

The report includes these quotes from a mother of a child aged 1-3 years in Irvine, Calif.

"I don't think media has anything to do with how I am as a parent," the mother says. "I would never sit her in front of a TV so I could go do something. I learned a long time ago that the dishes can wait until tomorrow. It can all wait. I've seen my 15-year-old grow up in the blink of an eye … I take advantage of all the time I can get."

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