A study of New Zealand teens concludes that parents who limit their children's media screen time may be helping them establish better relationships with friends and family. The study's authors recommend limiting screen time to less than two hours per day, which may be a daunting task given that teens in the U.S. average over seven hours per day according to a recently released study by the Kaiser Family Foundation.
Parents who don't let their children watch too much television or sit at the computer for hours have been vindicated by a study that linked excessive "screen" time with troubles relating to other people.
The study's findings, published in the March issue of the Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine, should reassure parents who feel guilty that they are depriving their children of entertainment that their peers are also indulging in, lead author Dr. Rose Richards of the University of Otago said.
"Our findings give some reassurance that it is fine to limit TV viewing," she said. "In fact, it may result in stronger relationships between young people, their friends and their parents."
The study was based on the Dunedin Multidisciplinary Health and Development Study and the Youth Lifestyle Study conducted by the university in the 1980s and then in 2004.
Although the studies were some 16 years apart and the nature of screen-based entertainment has changed, the link with family relationships appears to be the same.
"We found that staring at any screen for a long time is detrimental, and advise parents to stick to the recommended time limit of less than two hours of any screen use a day."