Children suffer with TV, video games in the bedroom

Media in the bedroom makes it easier for children to spend more time watching or playing, displacing other beneficial activities.
By Amy Wallace  |  Sept. 26, 2017 at 12:37 PM
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Sept. 26 (UPI) -- A study from Iowa State University shows that having a TV or video games in a child's bedroom leads to problems with sleep, school, and behavior.

Researchers found that the location of media such as television or video games in the bedroom results in children not doing as well in school, were at a greater risk of obesity and video game addiction.

"When most children turn on the TV alone in their bedroom, they're probably not watching educational shows or playing educational games," Douglas Gentile, professor of psychology at Iowa State University, said in a press release. "Putting a TV in the bedroom gives children 24-hour access and privatizes it in a sense, so as a parent you monitor less and control their use of it less."

The study, published Monday in Developmental Psychology, found that children with media in the bedroom watched TV programs and played video games that were more violent, increasing levels of physical aggression.

Researchers analyzed data from several previous studies showing that screen time for children continues to trend upward, close to 60 hours a week spent in front of screens.

The study tracked children over a 13 to 24 month period and found bedroom media increased total screen time, indirectly affecting school performance. Increased screen time was also associated with higher body mass index, symptoms of video game addiction and physical aggression.

Although the study focused on television and video games, researchers believe the same or more results would be seen with smartphones and mobile devices.

"We know from decades of research on addiction that the No. 1 predictor of addiction is access. You can't be addicted to gambling, if there is no place to gamble," Gentile said. "Access is certainly the gateway to a wide range of effects, both positive and negative."

Having the television in the bedroom makes it easier for children to spend more time watching or playing video games leaving less time for healthier activities.

"It's a lot easier for parents to never allow a TV in the bedroom than it is to take it out," Gentile said. "It's a question every parent must face, but there is a simple two-letter answer. That two-letter answer is tough, but it is worth it."

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