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Building stronger parent-child relationships

Two little boys watching t.v.

TV Watching

Erna Fishhaut

Revised July 2009 by Kathleen A. Olson, Extension Educator — Family Relations. Reviewed May 2016 by Lori Hendrickson, Extension Educator — Family Resiliency.

How much time do your children spend watching TV? Young children watch about four hours of television a day; older children watch slightly less. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no more than one to two hours per day for children over two and no TV watching for children under two years. Children whose parents set rules for watching television did better in school.

Why Restrict TV Watching

Here are some reasons to restrict TV viewing:

How to Cut Back

Here's how to cut back on the amount of screen time your child is exposed to:

Get the Most out of TV

Here are guidelines you can follow to create more positive viewing in your home:


Barton, P. E., & Coley, R. J. (1992). American's smallest school: The family (Policy Information Report). Princeton, NJ: Educational Testing Service.

Boyse, K. (2009). A guide to managing television: Tips for your family. University of Michigan Health System.

Fetter, M. (1984). Television viewing and school achievement. Journal of Communication, 34(2), 104-118.

Nathanson, A. (2012, January 5). Watch TV with your kids, but… Psychology Today.

Owens, J., Maxim, R., McGuinn, M., Novile, C., Msall, M., & Aliro, A. (1999). Television viewing habits and sleep disturbance in school children. Pediatrics, 104(3), e27.

Ridley-Johnson, R., Cooper, H., & Chance, J. (1983). The relation of children's television viewing to school achievement and IQ. The Journal of Educational Research, 76(5), 294-297.

Van den Beck, J. (2004). Television viewing, computer game playing, and internet use and self-reported time to bed and time out of bed in secondary-school children. SLEEP, 27(1), 101-104.

Related resources

Watching TV/Screen Time and Children — American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry — Get an overview of the negative effects of too much TV/screen time, and tips for parents on what to do to turn electronic media into a positive experience.

Television and Children University of Michigan Health System — Explore how television effect children, including it's effect on brain development, aggression, gender roles, and more.

Technology and MediaParentFurther — Get tips and strategies for raising media-wise kids, including dealing with video game addiction, sexting, and more.

Video Games: A Problem or a Blessing? — Follow these guidelines to ensure that your children's video game usage works for rather than against them.

Learning opportunities to discover — Get tips to help support your child’s learning away from school.

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