Typical American Infant Exposed to 5½ Hours of Background TV a Day

Friday, November 23, 2012

Leaving the television on in the background can negatively impact a child’s cognitive functioning and ability to socially interact, according to academic researchers who found that the average American infant is exposed to 5.5 hours of background TV a day.


In a study published by the journal Pediatrics, researchers from three universities found that children two years and younger experienced an average of 332 minutes (5.5 hours) of background TV per day.


Children six to eight years old were exposed to less than half that amount, 163 minutes (2.7 hours). Overall, the average American child is exposed to 232 minutes (3.9 hours) of background TV a day.


The researchers also found that the more wealthy and educated a family, the less likely the TV was left on around children performing other activities. African-American children aged 8 and younger were exposed to much more background TV than children of other races—338 minutes (6.5 hours) a day, compared to 217.5 minutes for white children and 148 minutes for Asian-Americans.


Many researchers suggest that for the first two years of life infants thrive on interactive stimulation, and that TV viewing hurts an infant’s development because it is a passive activity rather than an interactive one.

-Noel Brinkerhoff, David Wallechinsky


To Learn More:

Background Television in the Homes of U.S. Children (Journalist’s Resource)

Background Television in the Homes of U.S. Children (by Matthew A. Lapierre, Jessica Taylor Piotrowski and Deborah L. Linebarger, Pediatrics)

Moving to the United States Can be Dangerous to Children’s Health (by Missy Guerrero, AllGov)


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