Teens who watch TV in their bedrooms are less likely to engage in healthy habits such as exercising, eating fruits or vegetables, and enjoying family meals, according to a new study.
Apart from this, the study by researchers at the University of Minnesota School of Public Health, also revealed that such children also consumed larger quantities of sweetened beverages and fast food, were categorized as heavy TV watchers, and read or studied less than teens without TVs in their bedrooms.
"The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that parents remove television sets from their children's bedrooms. Despite this recommendation, almost two-thirds of our sample had a bedroom TV, which appears to be a factor for less than optimal behaviour," said Daheia Barr-Anderson, Ph.D., M.S.P.H., lead author of the study.
The researchers examined a group of 781 socio-economically and ethnically diverse teens as part of the School of Public Health Project Eating Among Teens (EAT) study on the basis of their television viewing habits, study habits, grades, diet, exercise habits, and family connectedness.
Almost two-thirds of the participants had a television in their bedroom or sleeping area, and those who did watched four to five more hours of television every week.
The results indicated that girls having a TV in their bedrooms tended to spend less time in vigorous activity each week than girls without TVs in their rooms (1.8 versus 2.5 hours). Also, they consumed fewer vegetables (1.7 versus 2 servings per day), and had fewer family meals (2.9 versus 3.7 meals per week).
On the other hand, boys having TVs in their rooms not only had lower fruit intake (1.7 versus 2.2) and fewer family meals (2.9 versus 3.6), they also scored low on the grade point average compared with those who did not have TVs in the bedroom (2.6 versus 2.9).
Barr-Anderson suggests that the first step parents can take to help their teens decrease unhealthy behaviours is to keep, or remove, a TV from the bedroom of their teen.
Dianne Neumark-Sztainer, Ph.D., principal investigator of Project EAT noted: "Our findings suggest the importance of not having a television in a child's bedroom. When families upgrade their living room television, they may want to resist the temptation to put the older television set in their children's bedroom."
The study, "Characteristics Associated With Older Adolescents Who Have a Television in Their Bedrooms," will be published in the May edition of Pediatrics, the official journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics.