Stuck to their phones? Study finds kids still watch TV more than anything


child in front of the TV

(Photo: Tatyana Korotun / Shutterstock)

As technology progresses, our fears grow as well. Socrates himself did not care about the new advance of writing. And my parents were always on me to watch less TV.

Yet as a parent, I always try to limit the time my 3-year-old child spends with his phone or tablet. After all, everyone knows that little kids are attracted to these portable devices, like moths, by a touch sensitive flame, right?

Not so fast, suggests a study this week JAMA Pediatrics. Despite this perception, television consumption is still much higher among children than any other type of screen usage. The researchers say any concerns about maintaining children's physical activity and intellectual development will need to focus more on television than on mobile devices.

Passionate about screens

The study, conducted by two researchers at Florida International University, compared the use of the screen to children under 6 years of age in 1997 (before the onslaught of mobile phones and phones). tablets) and in 2014. For raw figures, they looked at the diary data available in the Child Development Supplement. Panel study on income dynamics – a much more accurate indicator of time use than more common parental surveys, which may take place long after the fact.

The researchers compiled the number of hours spent by 1,327 children in front of a screen in 1997, defined as "watching television shows or video tapes, plus the time spent on electronic video games and activities related to television." 39, computer at home. children in 2014 – only now, "the activities on the screen included the use of television, video tapes, digital videodisks, game consoles, computers, mobile phones, smartphones, tablets, electronic readers and learning devices for children.

As Socrates was waiting for it, the situation is worse now: in children under 2 years old, the time spent in front of the screen has more than doubled, going from about 1.32 hours per day at about 3.05. But, somewhat unexpectedly, the share of time devoted to TV-like screens also increased from 43% in 1997 to 86% in 2014. Older children aged 3 to 5 are at the same time watching screens like now, but again, television accounted for a much larger percentage: just 48% of the total screen time in 1997, but 78% in 2014.

The same old TV show

The study also compared screen time with different demographics, such as education level and income level, and found typical correlations. (High-income households were more likely to have less time on the screen, for example.)

But overall, the study remained focused on counter-intuitive TV-related conclusions: despite the prevalence (and reshuffling) of smartphones and tablets, children are actually watching TV more than ever. The authors leave it to others to study the possible links between this time spent in front of a screen and the possible negative consequences. they only wanted people to know how to keep TV in the mix. "Stakeholders warn against the excessive use of mobile devices," they write, "they need to be aware that young children spend most of their time in front of the screen watching TV."

Too much TV: it's a story as old as a rebroadcast, but apparently children are not yet ready to change channels.


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