My children’s school uses TV during rest time, lunch time, and recess–what should I do?

My children’s school uses TV during rest time, lunch time, and recess–what should I do? 150 150 Mediatrics

At my children’s elementary school, TV is used every day in kindergarten during “rest time.” For the older students, how TV is used varies depending on the teacher or assistant teacher. Some use it during lunch to keep kids quiet or in lieu of recess when it’s raining or cold outside. Do you know of any research or writing in this area?
Screens at School?, in Albany, NY

A: Dear Screens,

Unfortunately, research shows that TV is often used in schools or daycares as a way to keep kids quiet—not as a learning tool. That means that kids getting more screentime than parents think.

More importantly, TV isn’t helpful—and is likely a harmful addition—to the activities you mention:

  • Use rest time for rest: Although TV can quiet kids, it doesn’t help them rest and will keep them from sleeping.
  • Use lunch time be for eating…and socializing: Eating while watching TV makes kids less in tune with whether they’re hungry or full, exposes them to advertising, and gives them less time to socialize, which is an important part of school.
  • Use recess for exercise: We also know how important physically active recess is—even on days when kids are stuck inside.

To address this issue, talk to your children’s teachers and to the school’s principal. Ask about the school’s policy on TV in classrooms, and ask how TV is integrated into the overall curriculum. Let them know that using TV to keep kids quiet during lunch or recess will not benefit the kids, and offer information to help them make better educational choices–and to use these technologies in ways that are positive in the classroom.

For more information, see this post: How can we get our 6-year-old’s teacher to make better media choices in the classroom?

Enjoy your media and use them wisely,
The Mediatrician®