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Last Updated: Wednesday, 7 April, 2004, 07:43 GMT 08:43 UK
Should children's TV viewing be limited?
Children watching cartoons
Children under two should not be allowed to watch any television and older children should watch no more than two hours a day, according to researchers at the Children's Hospital and Regional Medical Centre in Seattle.

The research suggested that each hour in front of the television increased a child's chances of attention deficit disorder by 10%.

The high levels of stimulation created by television viewing was expected to continue later life leading to difficulties in dealing with the slower pace of school and homework.

Do you limit the amount of television watched by your children? Do you think watching television is detrimental or beneficial for young children?

This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.

Your reaction

given the chance kids will watch cartoons all day and all night
Jacqui, Scotland
To all the people here who claim they need the TV to keep their kids pacified - what did parents do before television was invented? Watching people's reaction to Bush's Iraq adventure, I wonder if adults TV viewing should be limited as well.
Christopher Cormier, Ottawa, Canada

Moo, the difference is that in our day there were only a few programmes of interest to us. Outside of the limited kids TV segments we either watched decent quality adult TV or, more likely, went out to play. Nowadays there is wall-to-wall 24 hour cartoon channels and given the chance kids will watch cartoons all day and all night. In this environment, some limits have to be set by parents.
Jacqui, Scotland

This report is ludicrous, both my sister and I have watched more television than this report says we should have done. Yet both of us are very intelligent, go to two of the top private schools in the country, are articulate with correct grammar, and have indubitable concentration spans. So there!
Sam, Nottingham, England

Children watching TV is not the problem. The problem is the rubbish they have to watch.
Mike, Ipswich UK

Children should be introduced to lots of different things at this age - the joy of story-telling, art, movement, music, reading, building. Sitting in front of the TV is so passive. There are better things to do with ones time for all ages, not just children, and kids would in my opinion benefit from learning other pastimes early on.
Susan, London, UK

What else is going on in children's lives to affect their behaviour?
Lorraine, St Albans, UK
Poor old television getting the blame again. What else is going on in children's lives to affect their behaviour? Perhaps children that watch TV all day live in houses with nowhere to play, have fewer toys or have parents too busy making ends meet to sit and chat. TV is an easy target.
Lorraine, St Albans, UK

I never let my son watch TV until he was 5 years old. I felt it was in his interest to stimulation provided by his mother and myself. Far to many parents use the TV has a baby sitter, and then wonder why they have problems.
Clive, Dartford,UK

I think it's down to the attitude of the parents. If they just dump their children in front of the TV and let them watch any old rubbish just to keep them quiet then it can be a very bad thing. If instead they look through the weeks listings, and plan out which programs they are going to watch with their children along with their children's other activities then it should do no harm at all.
Paul, England

Clearly the researchers have never tried to cook a meal or clean the house with a toddler round their legs...get real, TV has it's place. my kids have learned letters, colours, numbers and more from watching suitable TV. It's what you do with the children the rest of the time that matters. They might also find that those with increased risk of ADD also had dietary or other factors in common - not just TV watching.
Natasha, London, UK

I think that you should be in control of what is watched and switch off the set at the end of a program.
Jennie, Egham, Surrey.

So what they are saying is kids who get too much stimulus when they are young get bored with the pace of school. Is this not just another excuse by an education system which cant keep kids interested? I say let them be stimulated by television and by the real world.
Martin Brennan, Scotland

I think that children should be banned from watching all television, going to fast food restaurants, playing conkers, swimming backstroke in public baths and banned from the streets after 9pm. And bring back national service and public flogging. When all this "Nanny State" rubbish fails to change the lives of one single person, can we go back to riding our bikes without helmets, going exploring in the woods all day without a mobile phone to call mum every 5 minutes, falling over without suing anyone and generally taking responsibility for our own actions? Oh good!
Andy Balding, Plymouth, UK.

As an already exhausted parent trying to combine child rearing with long hours in the office, the last thing I needed was a further guilt trip
an exhausted father, Scotland

Yes I think it should, but only in the sense that it stopping children from being outside, perhaps getting exercise. No one would criticise a parent for letting their child watch educational programmes.
Jane, Berks, UK

It would help if children did not have televisions in their bedrooms.
John , Maidstone

My daughter is 18 months old and watches CBeebies during the day which is aimed at her age range. She has already started reading and can count beyond 20. She can also sing the theme tunes to all her favourites!
Paul Davies, Swindon, UK

I bet this was written by someone either with no children or with a nanny to deal with the children. As an already exhausted parent trying to combine child rearing (2 year old girl)with long hours in the office, the last thing I needed was a further guilt trip. I would love to be able to spend more 'quality time' with my kids but believe me when you can get 30 minutes respite by turning on the TV and putting on a favourite DVD you'll do it.
An Exhausted Father, Scotland

I think a moderate amount of selective television viewing is not particularly harmful to children, and in many cases can be beneficial. It can give then a more complete perspective on the outside world, and can give examples of good speech and grammar to many who live in an environment where this is scarce. However, the viewing needs to be selective, since much of that which is available is poor in the extreme. Much of the cartoon programmes are crass American imports, and many of the "real presenter" type programs are hosted by enthusiastic but amateurish types whose own speech is abysmal. Is it any wonder that the average youth incapable of expressing him or herself without swearing!
Ron Levy, Rayleigh, Essex

Moderation is the key
SR, London
Twos and under really shouldn't watch TV as it can affect their vision and their linguistic abilities. For the rest, moderation is the key and a little TV / video is great fun. The downside to TV overload is that children's imagination doesn't develop anywhere near as well as it could
SR, London

TV and the junk pop culture have done untold damage on the children of this country. It is a case of the blind leading the blind. For better ratings the media fill the kid's minds with junk and then wonder why they have a disaffected and immature youth and adults.
John Karran, Liverpool

My nieces aged 3 and 5 watch unlimited TV. Often, while chatting to them they will turn away ,ignore me and stare blankly at the television set, oblivious to their surroundings. That said, my husband isn't much better. However i won't be letting my children watch much telly!!
Amanda , England

I watched plenty of television when I was a kid and there is nothing wrong with me. I have a degree, a high paid job and I was near top of the class at school so this 'report' is utter rubbish. A children's viewing is up to the parents anyway, and is no business of anybody else.
Moo, London, UK


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