Reducing Nighttime Viewing a Promising Way to Curb Children’s TV Diet

    Excessive television viewing has been linked to childhood obesity, behavioral and attention issues, reading problems and poor educational achievement. So what’s a good way for parents to address the problem of too much television viewing by children?

    Decreasing TV viewing just before bedtime seems to be one promising approach to cutting overall TV viewing among children, a new study suggests. Children ages 3 to 12 who watched little or no television in the hour before bedtime tended to have overall reduced TV viewing, regardless of their age, race, family income or parents’ education level.

    “If you wanted to create a broad campaign to help parents get their children to healthier levels of TV viewing, cutting down on television before bed appears to be an effective approach,” said Amy Jordan, associate director of the Annenberg Public Policy Center (APPC) of the University of Pennsylvania and a co-author of the study.

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    The study, “Identifying Family Television Practices to Reduce Children’s Television Time,” was conducted by researchers at APPC and at the Center for Research on Children, Adolescents and the Media (CcaM) at the University of Amsterdam. In addition to Jordan, the researchers included APPC’s Amy Bleakley and Michael Hennessy, and lead author and CcaM director Jessica Taylor Piotrowski, who received her doctorate from Penn’s Annenberg School for Communication.

    The study, based on a 2010 survey of 360 Philadelphia parents of children ages 3 to 12, was published online in the Journal of Family Communication.

    For more information see the CcaM website, or read the study in the Journal of Family Communication.