For some kids, even an hour without watching the television or engaging with some other device can seem draconian. However, too much TV can have negative effects, including poor school performance. Even President Obama limits when the first children can watch TV, and that includes a total ban during the week. Research backs him up, showing that it may not be good for kids to watch television on school nights.
Watching TV During the Week
Research supports parents who put limits on TV during the school week. A study conducted by the Children’s Hospital at Montefiore in the Bronx and published in the journal "Pediatrics" in 2006, found that children who watched TV on school nights performed worse in school. The study did not look at actual grades but rather relied on the responses of students in evaluating their own performance. The lead researcher said that students typically inflate their performance when asked to evaluate themselves, so if students estimated they performed badly, they likely performed even worse.
Simply watching television may not be the only thing hurting student performance in school. The study published in "Pediatrics" also found that exposure to video games during the week had a negative influence, as did watching R-rated movies and programming. Boys who watched R-rated movies performed especially poorly in school. Even when different parenting styles were accounted for in the study, exposure to these types of media was still found to hurt school performance.
Limits During the Week
To protect children from the negative effects of television viewing, parents can institute a ban during the week. The University of Michigan Health System says that the best rule is no TV during the week, but if you wish to allow it, it should be limited to one hour on school nights and should only be allowed after homework is finished. If your child is doing poorly in school, the health system suggests limiting TV to only a half hour each day. However, even limited TV time can interfere with school performance, and it can encourage kids to rush through their homework so they can watch TV. Rushing through homework can also lead to poor school performance. Parents should also monitor what shows their children watch, and use programs to block R-rated movies and shows.
Researchers said that weekend television watching did not impact school performance, unless it exceeded four hours per day. Therefore, parents should also limit television watching on the weekend so that it does not exceed this time. The University of Michigan Health System recommends limiting it to two to three hours per day on the weekend. Parents should not allow televisions in their children's bedrooms, as this can encourage excessive watching.