Another way TV hurts play

By Jason Marsh | July 15, 2008 | 1 comment

In Greater Good's recent issue on play, our contributors, including psychologist David Elkind, discuss how kids are playing less and less. People are usually quick to blame TV, complaining that kids are playing less because they're watching TV more.

A new study suggests the truth may be even worse. The study, published in the July/August issue of Child Development, found that kids play significantly less if they're simply in a room in which a TV is turned on, even if they're not trying to watch it and even if it's turned to adult programming. Under these conditions, the kids observed in the study, who were all three years old or younger, played for about five percent less time than when a TV wasn't turned on.

What's more, the reseachers found that when the kids did play with a TV on in the background, their play was less focused and lasted for shorter durations of time–about half as long.

"All of the concerns we have with children watching programming for children still apply to secondhand viewing. It distracts from the work of childhood, from play," says New Orleans pediatrician Daniel Bronfin, quoted in a piece published today about the study by the HealthDay news service.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) already recommends that children two years old and younger not be exposed to any TV at all.

For more on contremporary threats to play–and suggestions for how to revive play–you can check out our recent play issue.

Tracker Pixel for Entry

Greater Good wants to know:
Do you think this article will influence your opinions or behavior?

  • Very Likely

  • Likely

  • Unlikely

  • Very Unlikely

  • Not sure

About The Author

Jason Marsh is the editor in chief of Greater Good.


Like this article?

Here's what you can do:


Restricting television viewing is something every parent should do.  It is one of many parenting behaviors and practices generally recognized as supporting the healthy physical, emotional, and intellectual development of children.
Since parenting has so much to do with the health and well-being of individuals and communities, oughtn’t these parenting behaviors and practices be taught as a matter of course?

David | 5:41 pm, July 16, 2008 | Link

blog comments powered by Disqus



Greater Good Events

Mindful Self-Compassion: Core Skills Training
International House
December 9-10, 2016

Mindful Self-Compassion: Core Skills Training

This workshop is an introduction to Mindful Self-Compassion (MSC), an empirically-supported training program based on the pioneering research of Kristin Neff and the clinical perspective of Chris Germer.


Take a Greater Good Quiz!

How compassionate are you? How generous, grateful, or forgiving? Find out!


Watch Greater Good Videos

Jon Kabat-Zinn

Talks by inspiring speakers like Jon Kabat-Zinn, Dacher Keltner, and Barbara Fredrickson.


Greater Good Resources


Book of the Week

How Pleasure Works By Paul Bloom Bloom explores a broad range of human pleasures from food to sex to religion to music. Bloom argues that human pleasure is not purely an instinctive, superficial, sensory reaction; it has a hidden depth and complexity.

Is she flirting with you? Take the quiz and find out.
"It is a great good and a great gift, this Greater Good. I bow to you for your efforts to bring these uplifting and illuminating expressions of humanity, grounded in good science, to the attention of us all."  
Jon Kabat-Zinn

Best-selling author and founder of the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction program

thnx advertisement