ISU Study Says Kids Need Less Screen Time in Their Bedroom

AMES, Iowa --  If you have kids at home, no matter the age, you probably know who the best babysitter in the house is.

“Yeah, it for certain is the easy out for sure. Just watch some cartoons for 20 minutes,” said Chris Johnson.

Chris estimates his toddler Rowan has between 2-3 hours per day of screen time.  Chris says he knows that is already too much.  He shouldn’t feel too bad, though, because roughly 70% of kids are outside the guidelines for media use.  They’re using it way too much.

“They read less. They play few games. They have fewer hobbies. They play fewer sports. They go to the library less,” said Douglas Gentile, Ph.D, Iowa State University.   What Gentile is most concerned about is where we watch those screens.

“Just where you place it seems to matter. That is what this study shows in a way we haven’t seen before in other studies,” said Gentile.

He, along with a team at Iowa State University, just completed a comprehensive report on this.

It studied the affects of too much TV in the bedroom and what it does to kids.  The kids with a screen in the bedroom got less sleep, did worse at school, gained more weight and even were more likely to get into fights at recess.

“Those are really a wide range physical health, social wellness and school performance. They are all influenced by the simple thing of putting media in kids’ bedrooms and letting them have control over it,” said Gentile.

Gentile says not all hope is lost and not all media is bad.  He suggests if you want to help your kids, take those screens out of their room soon.

He also warns to be prepared for some push back and have other activities planned to replace that media time.  He recommends tracking the time your kids spend in front of a screen. He says the most useful tool was made by the American Academy of Pediatrics.