Children & Families

October 31, 2001 2 min read

Reducing TV Time

Children without television sets in their bedrooms spend less time watching shows and playing video games than children who have TVs in their rooms, concludes a study by Harvard University researchers.

The study also found that children with less access to a television spent about 20 minutes more per day doing homework.

An abstract of the study “Household Television Access: Associations With Screen Time, Reading, and Homework Among Youth,” is available in the current issue of Ambulatory Pediatrics. (Full report requires membership/registration.)

To reach their conclusions, researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health analyzed data from about 1,200 6th and 7th graders from 10 middle schools in the Boston area.

The researchers found that the sample of students averaged about three hours and 20 minutes of television viewing time each day, which included time playing video and computer games. And the children spent an average of an hour and 36 minutes per day reading or doing homework.

Fifty- four percent of the students had television sets in their bedrooms, and 42 percent said their parents did not set limits on how much television they could watch.

The study also found that children who regularly ate dinner with their families spent about 30 minutes less time each day watching TV than those who rarely ate meals with family members.

More than anything, the findings show that readier “access to television increases use,” said Jean L. Wiecha, the deputy director of the Harvard Research Center on Nutrition and Physical Activity and the study’s lead author. She added that the findings also “identify ways parents can reduce the time their children spend in front of the television.”

Research on Children

Two Cornell University researchers have received a five-year, $2.45 million grant from the National Science Foundation to establish a research institute on children.

Stephen J. Ceci, a professor of developmental psychology at the university in Ithaca, N.Y., and Wendy M. Williams, an associate professor of human development, will co-direct the Cornell Institute for Research on Children. The center will focus on translating research into practice and providing information to policymakers and other officials who make decisions about children.

The co-directors will commission studies about current policy issues. The institute will also publish research articles and a series of papers.

—Linda Jacobson