If there were ever a concerted public campaign against TV, its architects could legitimately claim to wage it — in that inevitable rationale for all do-goodism — “for the children.” The University of Michigan Health System reports that kids ages two to five spend on average 32 hours a week in front of a TV. Among 8- to 18-year-olds, 71 percent have a TV in their bedroom (and they spend on average 1.5 hours a day more watching TV than kids without a TV in the bedroom).
Watching TV is worse than a mindless activity, since mere mindlessness needn’t be harmful. “Excessive TV viewing can contribute to poor grades, sleep problems, behavior problems, obesity, and risky behavior,” according to the University of Michigan.
Berger cites a 2010 study from Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine that found that among toddlers, “every additional hour of television exposure” eventually means decreases in “classroom engagement . . . math achievement . . . time spent doing weekend physical activity. . . . and activities involving physical effort,” and increases in “victimization by classmates . . . consumption scores for soft drinks and snacks . . . and body mass index.” The American Academy of Pediatricians recommends that kids two and younger avoid TV — and everything else on a screen — altogether.