(Natural News) It seems harmless to let your kids have a TV in their bedroom, but researchers warn that this privilege may actually be bad for them. According to a study, children younger than six who can watch films in their own space are more likely to be overweight.
The study, which was published in the journal Science & Sports, was conducted by researchers from the University of Porto. However, the researchers did not look into the impact of having TVs in bedrooms on the health of young boys.
TV time and childhood obesity
Data from the study suggest that four-year-old girls have a greater risk of becoming obese if they are allowed to have a television in their bedroom.
For the study, Dr. Jorge Mota and his fellow researchers examined the lifestyles and habits of 120 girls aged four to six. They also talked to the kids’ parents.
Their findings suggest that the girls with TVs in their bedrooms were at least thrice as likely to be overweight compared with the other girls who were without the same luxury. After they were questioned, at least two-thirds of the parents admitted that their children had a TV in their bedroom when they were as young as six.
The researchers also found that the amount of time children spend watching TV only increases as they get older. They warned that, if left unresolved, unrestricted TV time could cause serious health problems in young children.
Additionally, having their own TVs means kids will spend less time on other activities like playing outside or taking part in physical activities. (Related: Experts warn that kids who watch TV see more ads for junk food, consuming on average 500 more snacks per year than kids who don’t.)
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While the researchers didn’t offer any other explanation as to why TVs in the bedroom could increase a child’s risk of obesity, other medical trials have found that kids eat more unhealthy snacks while they watch TV and are exposed to more junk food ads.
Other studies on childhood obesity risk
The Portuguese study isn’t the first to confirm that children who have a TV in their bedroom have a higher risk of obesity.
Back in 2017, researchers from University College London reported similar results after they worked with a much larger sample of 12,500 young girls and boys.
In a study published that same year, scientists discovered that young boys had a lower risk of becoming obese than girls despite having TVs in their bedrooms. The researchers posited that this was may be because boys jump around while watching TV, unlike girls.
Other studies also warned that obese children are at least five times more likely to become obese adults. This increases their risk of developing severe diseases such as cancer, diabetes, and heart disease.
Tips for managing your children’s screen time
To help your children stay healthy, don’t let them have a TV in their bedroom. Keep TVs and computers in common areas, like the living room, so you can monitor your kids’ usage.
Here are other tips that can help you manage your kids’ TV time.
- Define “too much screen time” – Figure out how much daily or weekly screen time you’re comfortable with, such as an hour on weekdays and two hours on weekends. Let your children know about this limit, and tell them why they need to give up TV time once this limit is reached. If you have young children, tell them that spending too much time on screens isn’t good for their brains and bodies. You also need to determine the consequences of breaking these rules.
- Make screens off-limits for several hours or on certain days – Set limits on your kids’ TV time so they don’t get used to watching shows whenever they feel like it. You can even keep school days and mealtimes TV-free. Kids may act out at first, but you need to be strict to make them understand that this is an important rule to follow.
- Offer active alternatives – Invite your kids to be active: take walks or ride bikes as a family. Joining your kids during play time makes activities more fun.
- Give your kids some control – Decide on a list of kid-friendly shows, then let your children decide what they want to watch. They need to know that they have control, but only if they follow family guidelines about screen time.
Make an effort to manage your kids’ TV time and set a good example to help them stay healthy and to lower their risk of childhood obesity.