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Guest blog: new research shows TV doesn't affect children's behaviour

(35 Posts)
KateMumsnet (MNHQ) Tue 26-Mar-13 15:03:53

You might have seen reports in the news today about new research which appears to show that watching TV has little impact on children's socialisation and behaviour. Here, the report's author Dr Alison Parkes explains more about what her research does (and doesn't) reveal about how screen-time affects children's development.

Have a read of her post, and let us know what you think. What's 'too much' TV, in your book? Do Dr Parkes' findings fit with your own experience? Do we worry too much about screen-time?

Let us have your thoughts, and if you blog on this subject, do post your URL on the thread.

MajaBiene Tue 26-Mar-13 21:30:13

It matters more what children do when they are not watching TV imo.

If the TV is on constantly and a child just watches it to the exclusion of interacting with adults, playing with other kids, running around outside, reading books, painting, baking, swimming etc etc then of course it is going to have a negative impact.

If a child watches TV (even a couple of hours a day!) but in the other 8-10 hours they are awake they are active, playing, interacting - don't see the problem.

flame04 Tue 26-Mar-13 21:50:39

Hi, I'm new. What does DS, CM, DD etc stand for?

sleepyhead Tue 26-Mar-13 21:52:06

Re: ads. I hate them, but when Ds started to want to see programmes on channels other than CBeebies and therefore got exposed to the relentless adverts for crap, watching together was actually a really good opportunity to talk about not being able to get everything you want, and also that adverts weren't true and would make things seem better than they were.

I'm guilty of making up a "little boy whose bought the golden coin maker with his birthday money because he saw it on an advert, and it was rubbish because the advert was a lie, and he was really disappointed" blush and other cautionary tales...

Unfortunately they have to learn the lesson of the hard sell at some point, though later rather than sooner is the ideal and I love V+ for that reason.

sleepyhead Tue 26-Mar-13 21:52:46

flame04 - see here

flame04 Tue 26-Mar-13 21:56:46

Fantastic!! Thank you!! smile

ISpyPlumPie Tue 26-Mar-13 23:42:07

I limit screen time to the extend that the TV is not on in the background all day, but DS1 watches some in the morning (Alphablocks, Rhyme Rocket etc) and a bit more in the evening (admittedly some of the less educational stuff eg Nick Jnr, Disney etc) as well as some cartoons on youtube. I actually think it's had a positive effect on him overall. He plays lots of imaginative games, many of which have a basis in the programmes he enjoys - he takes the stories and develops them in his own way, as he does with stories we have read together. He also has a really good vocabulary and is incredibly talkative. We discuss what he's watching and he's often inspired to ask questions as he wants to find out more about what he's seen.

I can see that inactivity and lack of interaction are potential risks of excessive screen time, but if TV is used responsibly and as just one of many different experiences a child has access to then it can be benificial too.

Anyway, if children are completely banned from all television they are going to miss out on some wonderful drunken student conversations about kids tv of yore grin.

ouryve Wed 27-Mar-13 13:02:07

Finally, someone being sensible instead of reactionary!

My boys never sit zombified in front of the TV. They come and go. DS1 comments on what he sees (he's particularly taking notice of the news now and forming opinions on it, so we spend a lot of time discussing horsemeat, the awful weather, triangular flapjacks etc). DS2 is non-verbal and not interested in many programs, but he picks up on humour and joins in with songs and so on.

We do have to ration DS1's use of technology - he has ASD and ADHD and does become a little too absorbed and struggles with the transition away from it. All the same, he uses his computer creatively, learns problem solving from the games he plays (he was experimenting with Bad Piggies, the other day). DS2 has gross motor delays as well as learning difficulties and we were thrilled when he learnt how to play a game on his leapster, a few months ago. He can't write and won't draw, but his use of the stylus has become quite accurate and he's using it for all sorts of things we had no idea he was capable of.

edam Wed 27-Mar-13 13:30:10

My ds is older (9) but probably does watch too much TV/spend too much time on screens of various kinds inc. computer/tablet/DS. It's kind of fine, largely programmes I'm happy for him to see (CBBC esp. Horrible Histories, Doctor Who etc. etc.) but he tries to grab more TV after 8pm, when it is supposed to go off, and will attempt to turn on any old crap (You've Been Framed and so on). So the addictive nature of TV watching for ds worries me a little.

Then there's the slightly less suitable programmes - I went back to a full-time job and came home to discover ds and dh had got into Big Bang Theory, which is hilarious but the dating/sex stuff isn't entirely suitable. I suppose at least it might encourage an interest in science, although equally the core message is being a scientist = makes you less attracive to the opposite sex. (On the plus side, it features female scientists as well as male...)

I can see positive aspects as well - we all enjoy Horrible Histories, discuss the stories, went to the Prom, saw it at the theature, we discuss issues/topics brought up by TV or computer games (playing Medieval Total War has taught him a lot of history, oddly enough, I was surprised he knew that there used to be a country called Prussia...), we talk a lot about false claims made in advertising...

Treeesa Wed 27-Mar-13 14:46:27

I always remember that Peter Pan was a favourite film with my children. We had it on a fair few times along with the other Disney classics. On one occasion I'd put a bread knife down on the bread board that was on the middle of the kitchen table. Turned around and was focused on getting something hot out of the over, and while I was doing that my 5 year old, who was sitting at the table waiting for his supper, picked up the knife, jumped down and was waving it around in the air pretending to slice through pirates no doubt.

Children do watch stuff and copy - they are continually learning & soaking up all sorts of stimulation, so ever since then I was even more conscious of trying to stick to age recommendations..

Zatopek Wed 27-Mar-13 21:10:42

I limited the TV until my eldest was about 3 and I had a newborn to care for. She rarely asked for it.

I never had it on in the day for myself unless DC were napping.

I still try to limit TV but since she started school DD asks for it a lot more. She is also more tired so less interested in playing with her toys.

I sometimes have it on briefly in the mornings before school whilst I am getting myself ready (disastrous as it turns DD into a zombie who then doesn't want to get up from the sofa).

I then have it on after school whilst I am trying to make DCs tea.

TV often makes my DD grumpy
so I only like to put it on if she's grumpy and tired already e.g after school or if it's a rainy day and we can't get outside.

I do think it is important to have long periods of the day when TV is switched off though as I do think children can become over reliant on it as entertainment (see the bored children thread).

My DD hates people talking when she has TV on and gets very annoyed if she misses anything- and I find that quite antisocial- I have to live here too and sometimes I actually need to speak!

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