TV Time Doubles in Daycare

SEATTLE: A new study indicates that kids in day care watch about twice as much TV as their stay-at-home peers. Those in home-based care watched far more than those in daycare centers as well. The study, conducted at the University of Washington School of Medicine, evaluated screen time in 168 child care programs in four states.

It found that among preschool-aged children, those in home-based daycare watched TV for 2.4 hours a day on average. That’s in addition to the average of two to three hours of TV kids watch at home. Those in daycare centers watched far less--24 minutes.

It was led by Dimitri Christakis, M.D., director of the Center for Child Health, Behavior and Development at Seattle Children’s Research Institute and professor of pediatrics at the University of Washington School of Medicine. 

“It’s alarming to find that so many children in the United States are watching essentially twice as much television as we previously thought,” Christakis said. “Research continues to link excessive preschool screen time with language delay, obesity, attentional problems and even aggression depending upon content. At the same time, studies show that high quality preschool can be beneficial to children’s development. Unfortunately, for many children, the potential benefits of preschool may be being displaced by passive TV viewing. I suspect many parents are unaware of the frequency and extent of TV viewing in day care settings. Hopefully, these findings will serve as a wake up call for them.”

The study looked at television use programs based in Michigan, Florida, Washington and Massachusetts. Of the 168, 94 were home-based 74 were center-based programs. TV reliance in home-based daycare centers correlated with the level of education of staff members. The higher the education level of staff, the less children were parked in front of a TV screen. No similar phenomena was identified in center-based programs.

The impact of home-based versus center-based child care programs differed somewhat depending on educational levels for staff members; having a two- or four-year college degree was associated with 1.41 fewer hours of television per day in home-based programs, but no impact of staff education on television use was observed in center-based programs.

More studies on the impact of TV usage:
October 20, 2009:“Television Access Linked to Household Debt”
TV is blamed for a multitude of sins--obesity, vulgarity, violence. Now, researchers at the City University of New York have discovered that TV also makes people poor.

August 11, 2009: ... Gives Children High Blood Pressure
Subjects were sedentary on average five hours a day, and spent 1.5 hours in front of a screen. The kids who watched the most TV (including DVDs and videos) had the highest blood pressure. Computer use did not yield the same association.

June 23, 2009: “...Makes People Tired”
“A recent article in the Journal of Labor Economics lays out how American sleep schedule are, frankly, more televisionistic than circadian.”

June 2, 2009: “... Deteriorates Kids’ Ability to Talk”
Kids and those who take care of them talk less the more they listen to TV, according to a study from the University of Washington School of Medicine.