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U.S. Children Exposed to Hours of Background TV Daily

FRIDAY, April 20 (HealthDay News) -- American children are being exposed to background TV for nearly four hours every day, new research finds.

For the study, researchers surveyed over 1,400 English-speaking households with children ranging in age from 8 months to 8 years old. After taking other variables into consideration, such as the children's gender, ethnicity, race, age and family income, the researchers also found black children and younger children had the highest rate of exposure to background TV.

Prior research has suggested that too much background TV may have negative consequences for children's learning and development, including reading ability, according to the study authors.

The new findings are slated to be presented at the International Communication Association's annual meeting, held May 24 to 28 in Phoenix.

"Considering the accumulating evidence regarding the impact that background television exposure has on young children, we were rather floored about the sheer scale of children's exposure with just under four hours of exposure each day," Matthew Lapierre, of the University of Pennsylvania's Annenberg School for Communication, said in an association news release.

Parents should remove televisions from their children's bedrooms and remember to turn the TV off when they are finished watching it, experts urged.

"As evidence begins to grow that background television exposure has negative consequences for young children, we need to take notice of the dramatic levels of American children's exposure to background television documented by this international team of communication researchers," Cynthia Stohl, a professor of communication at the University of California, Santa Barbara, said in the news release.

"This study should be a warning to parents and day-care providers to shut off the television when no one is watching, and certainly to consider the consequences of having a television in a child's bedroom no matter how young they may be," Stohl added.

The conclusions and results of studies presented at medical conferences should be considered preliminary under published in a peer-reviewed journal.

More information

The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry has more on children and TV watching.

-- Mary Elizabeth Dallas

SOURCE: International Communication Association, news release, April 17, 2012

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