(RxWiki News) While it may seem like a harmless activity, spending countless hours in front of the television could be negatively influencing your children.
A recent study found that when parents watched two or more hours of television a day, their children were more likely to follow suit compared to others.
The study's authors noted that screen viewing habits can persist throughout adulthood, so establishing healthy habits in childhood is very important.
"Limit your screen viewing time."
This study was led by Russell Jago, PhD, with the Centre for Exercise, Nutrition & Health Sciences at the University of Bristol in England.
Dr. Jago and team examined whether there was a connection between a parent’s screen viewing time and their child’s screen viewing time during the week and the weekend.
These researchers analyzed data from 1,078 families in the B-ProAct1v study conducted at the University of Bristol between January 2012 and July 2013.
Parents were asked to report their screen viewing time, which included time spent in front of a television, computer, smartphone or gaming console and that of their children (excluding smartphone use). The researchers specifically asked about their time spent using each device during a normal weekday and normal weekend day, with response options ranging from none to four or more hours.
The researchers found that just under 33 percent of parents reported watching more than two hours of television per day. During the weekend, however, more than 50 percent of parents reported watching more than two hours of television per day.
During the weekdays, 12 percent of boys and 8 percent of girls watched two or more hours of television per day, while these numbers increased to 45 and 43 percent, respectively, during the weekend.
When fathers watched two or more hours of television on a weekday, children were 3.4 times more likely to watch two or more hours as well, and when parents watched two or more hours on a weekend, children were close to five times more likely to watch a similar amount.
When mothers watched two or more hours of television per weekday, children were 3.7 times more likely to watch two or more hours during the week, and on the weekend, children were close to five times more likely to watch two or more hours.
The researchers also found that gender may play a role in influencing habits. Daughters were close to eight times more likely to watch two or more hours of television during the weekend if their father did, while sons were only about four times as likely.
Daughters were also 3.5 times more likely to use the computer if their fathers spent more than 30 minutes on the computer, while no connection was seen between fathers and sons.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, children should watch no more than two hours of television per day. Since parents' screen viewing time was found to be connected to their childrens', the authors of this study concluded that efforts to reduce children’s screen viewing should involve changes in the parents’ habits as well.
This study was published on May 1 in the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity.
The study authors reported no competing interests.