Is watching TV unhealthy for kids?

Dr. Pina LoGiudice, LAc, ND
Naturopathic Medicine

TV is unhealthy for kids. TV and computer screen time has been linked to high blood pressure in youngsters. Recent evidence shows that children who watch television for 1.5hrs to 5.5hours of television a day shows that even if a children is trim and active, they will still have higher blood pressure.

A study of 111 children from age 3 to age 8 showed that the increased blood pressure wasn’t associated with the sedentary behavior overall, but specifically linked to increased TV viewing. Two possible reasons are because children tend to snack unhealthy foods while watching TV, or because they watch material that is stressful or represent overactivity for their minds and reduce the ability to keep an increased metabolism. One other possibility is because it cuts into sleep time, which is needed for a host of healthy body processes.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends children watch no more than 2 hours of 'high quality' television a day. In light of this information, I believe this recommendation needs to be lowered.

Invented in 1929, television was first introduced to the public at a World's Fair in 1939. The first licenses issued were for commercial stations - this fact tells us that the motivation for TV was to be a vehicle for selling advertising for goods and services while providing entertainment. In the early 1960s, the first educational stations (later Public Broadcasting) began offering programs with the aim to educate and enrich people's lives. Regarding computers, in 1953, the UNIVAC was the first commercial computer and was able to pick presidential winners. In 1983, Apple introduced the first home computer. Although these inventions can enrich our lives, this study emphasizes how they can also disrupt normal physiology. It is important limit TV to the minimum possible, and keep computer use in balance with other, more natural and healthful activities.

references: "the history of television" accessed August 8, 2009 Eisenmann J. Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine. August 2009

Picture of kid watching tv

Excessive TV viewing during childhood has been linked to adult obesity, poor body image, and raised cholesterol. Not only because the simple fact that watching TV requires your child to remain still, what she watches also may have an even bigger detrimental impact. If she’s an “average” television-watching child, she sees 40,000 commercials each year. The most common products are sugared cereals, candy, sodas, and high-fat snack foods. That means she probably knows what a Whopper is before she knows what an artichoke is.

From Good Kids, Bad Habits: The RealAge Guide to Raising Healthy Children by Jennifer Trachtenberg.

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Good Kids, Bad Habits: The RealAge Guide to Raising Healthy Children

When kids start going on TV binges or devouring fistfuls of cookies, it's easy to say, "They'll grow out of it." More likely, they're acquiring bad habits that could lead to childhood obesity and...

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.