For many American families, TV time is all the time.
With an average of 2.24 television sets in each U.S. household, it’s a common occurrence for a screen to be flickering all day like the candles of yesteryear.
But for families with young children and toddlers, researchers are saying that too much television can be detrimental to positive development.
According to Today, children who watch more than two hours of television each day miss out on vital social time with family and peers, and are at risk of compromising the development of “emotional intelligence.”
Emotional intelligence encompasses the vital social skills humans need to interact with others in a meaningful and productive way, such as eye contact, proper listening, and being receptive to the feelings and emotions of others.
In fact, a lack of these social skills may put your child at risk for being bullied in school, Today reports.
Linda Pagani is the co-author of a study published in the Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics, that focused on the correlation between the amount of television watched and the amount of bullying.
Pagani and her colleagues conducted a longitudinal study, following children approximately 2,000 children from 29 months up until sixth grade. At 29 months, the researchers asked parents about the child’s television habits, as well as questions about their temperament and behavior.
When the children were in sixth grade, the researchers followed up, asking the children questions about how frequently they were teased or ostracized by other children.
Upon analyzing the data, the Pagani and her colleagues found a strong correlation between hours of television watched and the amount of bullying the child claimed to experience. For every additional hour of television, the researchers noticed an 11% increase.
One of the study’s unexplained variables, however, was what exactly television does to make a child more susceptible to bullying.
Perhaps the more time children spend staring at a screen, the less time they have to cultivate their own personal skills and gain confidence in activities such as sports, art, and intellectual pursuits.
Whether it’s Netflix or 3D TV, television doesn’t appear to be going anywhere anytime soon.
To ensure your children develop a positive emotional intelligence and relationship with themselves and those around them, encourage them to spend time playing outside, and to get involved in activities that require skill building and the overcoming of obstacles.