I know that I seemed to take a bit of an extreme stance in my last posting about kids and TV but a new study out shows, once again, a pretty strong link between happiness and NOT watching television. University of Maryland sociologists John Robinson and Steven Martin show that happier people tend to watch considerably less television than unhappy people. We don't know why – if TV makes people unhappy, or if already unhappy people tend to watch more TV. But we do know that there are a lot of activities out there that WILL help our kids develop into happy, well-adjusted individuals. If our kids are watching TV, they aren't doing those things that could be making them happier in the long run.
I don't think that television is the root of all evils. I put my kids in front of heinous princess videos all the time: how else would I stay sane? But television viewing is not a happiness habit.
The video below, on this same topic, was produced by Regence, a health care company. What do you think?
© 2008 Christine Carter, Ph.D.
Join the Campaign for 100,000 Happier Parents by signing this simple pledge.
Become a fan of Raising Happiness on Facebook.
Follow Christine Carter on Twitter
Subscribe to the Happiness Matters Podcast on iTunes.
Your comments don’t really match the video. Although it does state the relationship between TV and less active lifestyles, the video seems to preach moderation. It mentions the benefit of age-related educational shows and parents watching with their children. I agree whole-heartedly with that perspective versus your introduction: “strong link between happiness and NOT watching television”.
Regarding video games, a personal pet peeve of mine (that they are so often blindly attached), she mentions the relationship between sports themed video games and the increased likelihood of kids playing them in real life. Also, she briefly mentions the rating system applied to games (just like movies) which ALL parents need to be aware of.
Your introduction provides much more doom-n-gloom than the actual video…a tad bit sensationalistic even.
tod hilton | 12:52 pm, December 9, 2008 | Link
Personally, I think watching TV makes people unhappy because it makes them want things. When you are left wanting, you tend to be unhappy. I find when I don’t watch TV or look at magazines, I am not reminded that I don’t measure up to an impossible standard, or that I don’t have everything the Jones’ have. Of course, the opposite is also true!
Rebecca | 1:57 pm, December 9, 2008 | Link
I agree. I have used tv as a babysitter more often than I care to write down especially when they were little. However, we have a no tv on school nights/day policy. Occasionally the news will be on while I am getting dinner ready but they don’t care. One of the by-products of no tv is that the household is a quieter and saner place. You’d think the opposite but it is definitely more peaceful without the tv. Does peacefulness equal happiness? I am happier in a peaceful household and if I am happier so are the kids!
Alexandra Davidson | 1:32 pm, December 22, 2008 | Link
How ironic to use video to tell people NOT to watch TV!
Chris Schons | 9:13 pm, January 1, 2009 | Link
We use TV as a mediator and sort of us a compromise in our househould and the kids still seem fine.
bad parent | 8:41 pm, January 14, 2009 | Link
This is a good reminder to turn off the TV and be more involved. I know that my son prefers me reading a book to him, or climbing stairs, or petting the dog or anything that requires moving than watching a video. The insight of the research just reconfirms what I already know… get off my duff!
Allison | 10:51 am, July 30, 2009 | Link
While I don’t question the conclusion that too much TV is bad for kids, I question the science. I suspect that, as you say, unhappy people watch more television because they’re unhappy, not because watching television makes them unhappy.
Dave | 2:21 pm, July 30, 2009 | Link
I agree that time wasted watching mind numbing TV could be put to better use that will benefit them in the long run. Developing relationships and hobbies is not acomplished by sitting staring at the box. Used for educational purposes including the internet such as this site, relationship building and TV that links to and improves hobbies are great extensions of our lives – active lives that need to come first before TV.
Tina | 12:56 am, December 17, 2009 | Link