Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Bedrooms Are For Beds, Not Televisions

Since my early teenage years to the time that I got married, a television set served as a member of my bedroom, as did a video game system and eventually a computer. As wonderful as these things are, I am now convinced that none of them belong in a bedroom. Something I committed to when I get married was to remove the television set from my bedroom and never allow it to return. And I've been true to that commitment to this day. The reason that I decided to do this was because I learned what a television set in the bedroom does to our bodies. It trains them to do precisely what we don't want them to do when they hit the bed: Stay Awake! This was my biggest problem, one that I failed to see the cause of during the time that I had a television set in my bedroom.

However, I am glad to report that not falling asleep quickly is no longer a problem for me. You see, I have trained my body over the last three years to go to sleep when I lay in my bed. By not using the bed to do anything other than sleep, my body has learned to shut down when it senses I'm in my bed. This is a wonderful thing my body has learned to do. And it's true.

Now there are other reasons that we shouldn't have television sets in our bedrooms but I'd like to focus on why we shouldn't allow our children to have television sets in their bedrooms. Believe it or not there are actual studies about this very thing and their findings are revealing:

  • According to the Science Section of the New York Times, after collating various research on bedroom television sets, conclude that, "Children with bedroom TV's score lower on school tests and are more likely to have sleep problems. Having a television in the bedroom is strongly associated with being overweight and a higher risk for smoking."
  • A study of kids between the ages of 4 and 7 showed that placing a TV in the bedroom increased weekly viewing by nearly nine hours—from 21 hours, to 30. "Under these circumstances, children read less, and make less progress in school. What's more, parents don't keep track of what kids watch in their own rooms, or how much time they spend on the tube."
  • A 2002 study in the journal "Pediatrics" showed that the presence of a bedroom television set greatly increased the risk of being overweight or obese.
  • A 2007 study in the same journal showed that students aged 12 to 14 with a bedroom television set were more than twice as likely to start smoking as those without television sets. (Even after controlling for the risk factors of have a parent of friend who smoked.)

I don't believe there is a single good reason to allow television sets, or video game sets, or computers in our children's bedrooms. Now that I'm a parent, I think more about this sort of thing, as I'm sure, as I hope, all parents do. And I hope that you'll commit as I have in keeping television sets in their proper place, anywhere but the bedroom.

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