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By Amber Russell

How often do Americans watch television?

“Hurry up, babe. The show is coming on.” Of all family activities, TV is the most time consuming. It seems like most families, instead of enjoying just a little time in front of the tube, often spend hours glued to the screen together. But how much is too much?

Today, studies show that at least 99 percent of households have a television, with 66 percent having more than three total in their household. On average, a household has their TV on for about 7 hours a day, which leads to the statistic that the average American watches more than 4 hours of TV a day. In the lifespan of 65 years, an American will spend 9 years watching a screen.

There are many problems that doctors and psychologists blame TV for – from child obesity to ADHD, not to mention violence. Studies have shown that a child is more likely to mimic what they see, and a child will see more than 8,000 murders on TV before they finish elementary school, which leads to more violent behavior. There are many problems that come from watching too much TV – here are a few examples.

Extra Weight

With increased inactivity, there are bound to be a few added pounds. This is often the case with children. They need plenty of exercise to stay healthy, and with the TV taking up so much time there isn’t as much time or incentive to get outdoors or exercise.

Poor school performance

As with poor exercise, increasing amounts of television usage means less time to study. Is it shown that a child’s grades drop with the increase of TV time. Additionally, many late night shows that children enjoy will tire them out and cause them not to be able to pay attention in school.

Unhealthy eating habits

There have been studies that commercials and eating are linked. With many commercials about their favorite fast food joints and sugary snacks, people are more likely to eat them since they see it so often during their viewing time.

Attention disorders

Studies have shown that a child that watches more than two hours of TV will be more likely to grow up to have attention disorders. Not being able to pay attention to adults, school work or even daily tasks will continue to influence their behavior throughout their lives.

TV addiction

Though not thought to be serious, this is a very real addiction. It can be very powerful, doctors equate this addiction like someone who is on drugs. Luckily this isn’t a psychical addiction, like smoking, and can be controlled and changed if see fit.

There is, however, a healthy amount of TV. A child under the age of three should never- if so rarely- watch TV and children older than that have the OK to watch no more than 2 hours a day. Of course, it is hard to completely cut off your child since television is something we all enjoy, watching with the family is better than letting a child watch alone. Just as it is with anything you enjoy, moderation is the key.

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