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Health & Parenting

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Survey: Too Much TV Time at Day Care Centers

Many Day Care Centers Aren’t Following Recommended Limits on Screen Time for Young Children

Day Care and Screen Time

Her findings confirm previous research, which has shown that children can get a substantial part of their daily media during day care.

“We know that 75% of children in the United States are cared for outside the home during the day,” says Dimitri A. Christakis, MD, MPH, director of the Center for Child Health, Behavior, and Development at the Seattle Children’s Hospital Research Institute.

Christakis published a study in 2009 in the journal Pediatrics, which found that TV viewing during day care essentially doubled the average amount of time many young children were thought to spend in front of a screen each day.

“When you put it together, what you find is that particularly kids in home-based child care watch about another hour-and-a-half,” he says.

Children in day care centers that were based outside the home watched less, an average of about 20 minutes daily.

“Parents should be concerned,” Christakis tells WebMD. “It’s not something that is regulated. It’s not something that’s part of licensing in most states -- that there be some restrictions on the amount of children television watch.”

He says the new findings, on the prevalence of computers in day care, deserve a harder look.

“We know for example that kids under the age of 3 don’t learn as well from any screen as they do from a real live person,” he says.

Until more is known, being aware and inquisitive can help.

“Parents could at least be asking, ‘Are they watching TV and how much are they watching?’” Copeland says.

“If parents start asking, and parents are concerned,” she says, “it’s likely this will change.”

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