Ugh! Doing some simple math on these numbers shows that younger kids are spending the equivalent of 2+ months a year watching television. We'll see what impact this has in the coming years.

More than an entire day -- that's how long children sit in front of the television in an average week, according to new findings released Monday by Nielsen.

The amount of television usage by children reached an eight-year high, with kids ages 2 to 5 watching the screen for more than 32 hours a week on average and those ages 6 to 11 watching more than 28 hours. The analysis, based on the fourth quarter of 2008, measured children's consumption of live and recorded TV, as well as VCR and game console usage.

"They're using all the technology available in their households," said Patricia McDonough, Nielsen's senior vice president of insights, analysis and policy. "They're using the DVD, they're on the Internet. They're not giving up any media -- they're just picking up more."

The increase in consumption is in part the result of more programming targeted at kids, she said, including video on demand, which is particularly popular among young children who like to watch their favorite shows over and over again.

"When I was a kid, I had Saturday morning cartoons," McDonough said. "And now there are programs they want to watch available to them whenever they want to watch them."

"I think parents are clueless about how much media their kids are using and what they're watching," said Dr. Vic Strasburger, a professor of pediatrics at the University of New Mexico School of Medicine and a spokesman for the American Academy of Pediatrics.

"There are some extraordinarily good media for kids," he said. "But even the best -- 'Sesame Street' for 5-year-olds -- kids shouldn't be watching five hours a day. They should be outside playing. They should be having books read to them."

Source: Los Angeles Times
http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/news/la-et-kids-tv27-2009oct27,0,2531927.story