Children and the Media

Children view far more television today than in the 1960s; so much that they have been referred to as Generation M for Media. Almost all American families have at least one TV set, and half own three or more (Nielsen Company, 2009). For children age six and under, two-thirds watch television every day, usually for two hours (Rideout & Hamel, 2006). Even when involved in other activities, such as playing, there is often a television on nearby (Christakis, 2009; Kirkorian, Pempek, & Murphy, 2009). Research has consistently shown that too much television adversely affects children’s behavior, health, and achievement (Gentile & Walsh, 2002; Robinson, Wilde, & Navracruz, 2001). Young children are less able to focus on active, hands-on play while the television is on, and background TV can negatively affect cognitive and language development as well as be linked to attention problems later in childhood (Schmidt, Pempek, & Kirkorian, 2008; Courage, Murphy, & Goulding, 2010).