Zero TV for tots, says Australian government guidelines


The Australian government wants child care professionals and parents to entirely eliminate television from the lives of kids under two, and limit those five years old or younger to one hour a day of TV and/or video games. These guidelines, part of a report to be released this week in the nation's war on childhood obesity, are based on findings of a study by the Royal Children's Hospital in Melbourne.

According to the UK Times Online, the report states "Based on recent research it is recommended that children younger than 2 years of age should not spend any time watching television or using other electronic media (DVD, computer and other electronic games)."

The study concluded that watching TV takes away time tots have for play, socialization, and speech development. Research found that Aussie kids spend more time in front of the tube than at any other activity -- four-month-old infants average 44 minutes of TV a day. Almost one in three households leave the set on all day long. The guidelines will also recommend minimizing the amount of time tots spend at other sedentary activities such as reading and drawing.

The report also sets official guidelines for kids between 2 and 5, suggesting they should be limited to an hour a day in front of the boob tube or video game terminal.

The study was done for the country's "Get Up and Grow" anti-obesity program, and while the guidelines are specifically targeted for child care centers, the report suggests that parents adopt the same strategies at home. One in every four children in Australia is currently overweight, and the problem is escalating.

I have two reactions to this story. The first is -- parents, just how practical is this advice? The second is, why stop at five years of age? Turning off the television could have health benefits throughout the age spectrum.

When it comes to turning off the computer though ... no one will infer that WalletPop could make you fat, would they?