Violent Shows Impact Kids’ Sleep

Studies have shown 4 in 10 children under age 2 watch TV every day. Whereas parents might believe there’s no risk, recent research reads violent shows and age inappropriate imagery impact kids’ sleep.

Oftentimes, kids watch TV more than parents would imagine. The risk they’re subjected to is also bigger than originally believed. A research by experts from Center for Child Health, Behavior and Development at Seattle Children’s Research Institute reads that violent media disturbs young children’s sleep.

The kind of shows and imagery ruled violent and with an impact on kids’ sleep is not at all uncommon. Researchers say that some of the most popular shows put kids at risk. Michelle Garrison, study lead author, says SpongeBob SquarePants and even Bugs Bunny could be damaging for young children.

“Content that’s funny for older kids can be too violent for really young children” said Michelle Garrison. “An 8-year-old can watch superheroes and understand that it’s not what happens in real life” explained the researcher. Meanwhile, the same content can be “scary” and “overwhelming” for a 3-year-old. “The idea that people might just explode is scary for a 3-year-old” said Garrison.

The study featured 565 kids aged 3 to 5 years in Seattle. Researchers had two groups of focus: one received coaching about the quality of the shows their kids were watching while the other one only received nutrition mail. The study showed kids aged 3 to 5 years who watched non-violent shows before going to bed presented a 64 percent less likelihood of sleep disturbance.

“When kids in this age group watched violent of age-inappropriate media, they were more likely to have nightmares, have a hard time falling asleep and wake up during the night” said the lead author. Children try to process what they’ve seen and experienced through the day during the sleep and violent media could spark nightmares.

Garrison said parents should try finding age-appropriate content for their young children. Sesame Street, Curious George and Dora the Explorer are shows that “can be beneficial for preschool children to watch, because they emphasize things such as literacy, numbers and social skills”.

Even so, experts recommend children should not watch TV at least an hour before bedtime to avoid any impact on their sleep.

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