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How TV affects your child

Most kids plug into the world of television long before they enter school.

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF), two-thirds of infants and toddlers watch a screen an average of 2 hours a day. Kids under age 6 watch an average of about 2 hours of screen media a day, primarily TV and videos or DVDs.

Kids and teens 8 to 18 years spend nearly 4 hours a day in front of a TV screen and almost 2 additional hours on the computer (outside of schoolwork) and playing video games.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that kids under 2 years old not watch any TV and that those older than 2 watch no more than 1 to 2 hours a day of quality programming. The first 2 years of life are considered a critical time for brain development.

TV and other electronic media can get in the way of exploring, playing, and interacting with parents and others, which encourages learning and healthy physical and social development. As kids get older, too much screen time can interfere with activities such as being physically active, reading, doing homework, playing with friends, and spending time with family.

Of course, TV in moderation can be a good thing: Preschoolers can get help learning the alphabet on public television, grade schoolers can learn about wildlife on nature shows, and parents can keep up with current events on the evening news. No doubt about it — TV can be an excellent educator and entertainer.

Still, too much TV can be a bad thing: Children who consistently spend more than 4 hours per day watching TV are more likely to be overweight.

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