Want a smarter child? A new study shows that keeping children away from television while they’re still toddlers could make them smarter, thinner, and healthier later in childhood – and in life.
A Smarter Kid? Turn Off the Television
In a study published in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, researchers looked at the television viewing habits of 1,314 kids at 29 months and at 53 months of age. They also looked at their BMI (body mass index) and their school performance. What did they find?
As might be expected, kids who watched more television at two years of age were less healthy overall and had more problems academically. For each additional hour of childhood television watching a child engaged in at age two, the more likely he or she was to have academic problems, eat greater quantities of junk food, get less exercise, and have a higher BMI. This is clearly not what most parents want for their kids.
To Get a Smarter Kid – Exercise Their Mind
The researchers in this study emphasized that limiting childhood television viewing early in life is important – during the critical time when a child’s brain is developing rapidly and habits and preferences are being formed. This is a time when children should be engaged in creative pursuits that challenge their minds to think in new ways such as brain games, playing an instrument, and doing puzzles – rather than watching television.
Physical Activity Counts Too
Outdoor play is important not only for increasing coordination and reducing the risk of obesity, but for establishing a lifelong habit of good health. One study showed that how children play determines how healthy they are as adults. The more children engage in creative activities and active play, they more likely they are to be healthy adults of normal weight.
Limit Television to Less Than Two Hours a Day
Childhood television viewing is on the rise – and kids are spending less time outdoors playing. This not only increases the risk of health problems such as obesity, but academic problems as well. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends limiting a child’s television viewing to less than two hours a day – something that many parents aren’t doing.
The Bottom Line
Give your child a nudge and encourage them to take a break from the television – the sooner the better. It could pay off later when your child is healthier and gets better grades.