How many hours of TV are too much for a teen?

According to a report by the Kaiser Family Foundation, more than 70 percent of kids between 8 and 18 years old have a television set in their bedroom, which results in an average of 1.5 more hours a day of TV watching. Too many hours of TV watching are at the expense of family relationships, sports, reading, friends, homework, chores and other productive activities. And those extra hours have been linked to an increase in ADHD, obesity and violent behavior. In addition, teenagers who view programs with sexual content are twice as likely to initiate sexual activity before other teenagers of the same age.

While experts recommend limiting TV watching to one or two hours a day, many teenagers watch at least three hours a day. An interesting study showed that heavy TV watchers (four or more hours a day) viewed the world according to how it was presented on TV, while the light watchers (two hours or fewer daily) were still able to see the world according to reality. If your teen's grades slip, he or she puts on extra weight, or you notice that the TV seems to be on for an excessive number of hours (51 percent of U.S. households report that their television set is on "most of the time"), you might consider instituting limits.


Some tips for limiting TV watching are to keep the TV out of your teenager's room, to turn off the TV during mealtime, to set a good example by not parking yourself in front of the TV for hours and to offer alternative forms of entertainment. In addition, you should definitely monitor the shows that your children and teens view, and eliminate those that glamorize violence, portray women/the elderly/minorities stereotypically, encourage risk-taking behavior or romanticize a culture that you disagree with. Although the United States has been called a "nation of TV addicts," you and your family can choose to remain addiction-free.