According to a nationwide study, a much bigger proportion of kids' TV exposure comes indirectly, from television that's on in the background while they're doing other activities.
The average child between the ages of 8 months and 8 years absorbs nearly four hours of this so-called background or "secondhand" TV each day, the study found. And this indirect exposure, by detracting from play, homework, and family time, may have possible consequences for kids' well-being.
This is the first study to quantify background television in children, and the high number is "surprising," says lead author Matthew Lapierre, an assistant professor of communication studies at the University of North Carolina Wilmington.
"From a research perspective, I would be very concerned," Lapierre says. "I think (background TV) is something that researchers need to spend more attention to, to understand and unpack."
Image: Baby watching television, via Shutterstock