In 1984 the American Academy of Pediatrics Task Force on Children and Television issued a statement1 that cautioned pediatricians and parents about the potential for television to promote violent and/or aggressive behavior and obesity. The influence of television on early sexual activity, drug and alcohol use and abuse, school performance, and perpetuation of ethnic stereotypes was also stressed. Advances in our understanding of the effects of television on children have prompted this update of the Academy's policy.
In 1989 the average child in the United States still spent more time watching television than performing any other activity except sleeping. According to recent Nielsen data,2 children aged 2 to 5 years view approximately 25 hours of television per week, children aged 6 to 11 years watch more than 22 hours per week, and adolescents 12 to 17 years watch 23 hours of television per week. Although the amount of commercial television viewed by children has declined since 1980, the most recent estimates of television viewing do not include the use of video cassette recorders. Therefore, the amount of time that children in our country spend in front of the television set has probably not decreased significantly in the past 8 years.
Television's influence on children is a function of the length of time they spend watching and the cumulative effect of what they see. By the time today's child reaches age 70, he or she will have spent approximately 7 years watching television.3 Therefore, television may displace more active experience of the world.
- Received January 29, 1990.
- Accepted January 29, 1990.
- Copyright © 1990 by the American Academy of Pediatrics