DENVER (CBS4) – Two new studies suggest what children watch on television could affect their behavior.

According to the studies in the journal “Pediatrics,” it’s not just what children are watching, but the time they spend in front of the TV.

The studies can be a wakeup call for parents. They indicate too much TV and the content of the programs can be hazardous to children.

Television is part of the regular routine in Walsh home. With six children, Kerre and John Walsh say it’s one way to keep them entertained. The couple said they have TVs in every room of the house.

“Basically every room, and in the cars as well,” Kerre Walsh said.

New Zealand researchers looked at about 1,000 children and found the more TV they watch, the more anti-social and aggressive they can become.

“They tend to totally remove themselves from the feeling side of things,” family therapist Dr. Larry Curry at Metro State University said.

“It also means really more depression, more anxiety, more keeping to one’s self,” Dr. Suzanne Kaseta at Washingtonville Pediatrics said.

Pediatricians aren’t only concerned about the time children spend in front of the TV, but also the programs they watch. In a second study, U.S. researchers found preschool aged children can imitate what they see on TV.

“So the content of violence, the content of movement, the content of constant — kind of this knee-jerk reaction impacts the child between the ages of zero and six years old,” Curry said.

The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests children older than two watch no more than two hours of TV a day. Younger children shouldn’t watch any.

The Walsh children have rules to follow.

“They all shout at the same time, ‘We’re not allowed to watch that,’ ” John Walsh said.

They also have limits on TV time and spend most of their time outside and active.

Researchers also determined that excess television viewing in children increased the risk of criminal conviction later in life. But on the positive side they also found that changing the channel to more educational programs can actually improve a young child’s behavior.


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