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Too Much Background TV?

Even though it's his birthday, 10-year-old Daniel Cary isn't allowed to just sit and relax in front of the TV all day.

His mother, Andrea Cary, says, "We don't watch a whole lof ot TV because it's a waste of time pretty much. There's some good stuff out there, but, there's a lot of junk, too."

Experts say children in the United States watch about 80 minutes of television a day, on average.

A new national study says a much bigger proportion of kids' TV exposure comes indirectly, from TV that's on in the background while they're doing other activities.

Daniel says, "Sometimes she does say to have me go out and play and it kind of makes me mad."

The study says the average child between the ages of 8 months and 8 years absorbs nearly four hours of this so-called background or "secondhand" TV every day. It says this indirect exposure, by detracting from play, homework, and family time, may have possible consequences for kids' well-being.

"That's why Whole Child Leon's 95210 Initiative suggests no more than two hours of screen time a day for kids.

Cary, who's a mother of three with one on the way, says, "I homeschool, so we're home for lunch together. We have the TV playing. I understand what you're saying, so yeah, turn it off, do something else."

The study says limiting background TV is easy. Parents can simply turn the television off when no one's watching, and make sure it stays off during homework time, meal times and bedtime.


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