If you ask your architect to design your bedroom, chances are he will draw it like this:
He will put in a bed, a closet, a work table and then a TV. There will be a TV in every bedroom (including your kids rooms) because these days, it has become the norm.
But I’m an advocate of “design that is mindful of people”, I believe in carefully considering the people who will use the space we design. So I say we stop for a moment and look at the effects of this “norm” of putting a television in every room, more importantly our kids rooms.
“How does having a TV in our children’s rooms affect our kids?”
I’ve looked around for some research on the topic and have found these effects:
No control on viewing time & content
In a study of 80 children in Buffalo, ages 4 to 7, the presence of a television in the bedroom increased average viewing time by nearly nine hours a week, to 30 hours from 21
“If it’s in the bedroom, the parents don’t even really know what the kids are watching,” said Leonard H. Epstein, professor of pediatrics and social and preventive medicine at the School of Medicine and Biomedical Science at the State University of New York at Buffalo. (NY Times)
Effects on Weight
According to Dr. Barbara A. Dennison and colleagues in a study published in the June 2002 issue of "Pediatrics," your child is more likely to have a weight problem if she has a TV in the bedroom. (livestrong.com)
Compared to television watched in, say, a family room, the screen time a kid logs in his or her bedroom is linked, hour-for-hour, to more belly fat, higher triglycerides and overall greater risk of developing heart disease and diabetes. (LA Times)
Parents who put a television in a child's room may find it difficult to restrict viewing times, monitor viewing content and enforce a set bedtime. Watching television at night may delay a child's production of melatonin, making it more difficult for a child to fall asleep (livestrong.com)
Effects on studies
In a 2005 study in the Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine, researchers looked at the television, computer and video game habits of almost 400 children in six Northern California schools for a year. About 70 percent of the children in the study had their own TV in the bedroom; they scored significantly and consistently lower on math, reading and language-arts tests. (NY Times)
A study of more than 700 middle-school students, ages 12 to 14, found that those with bedroom TVs were twice as likely to start smoking (NY Times)
Lets summarize that, families who allows television in their kids bedrooms resulted in:
1. increased viewing time & no control of content
2. weight gain & higher risk to developing heart disease & diabetes.
3. disrupted sleep patterns,
4. lower grades in math, reading and language.
5. 2x likely to pick up smoking as a habit.
Whoa!! All that for the seemingly harmless convenience of having television inside the bedroom. Then again, we only touched its effect on our kids, we haven’t even touched on its effect on interfamilial interaction and family dynamics. ….but lets save that for another day ;)
My point is, when it comes to our families, the “norm” should sometimes be re-examined. Much thought must be given to our spaces in terms of how it responds to the “individual” and his needs. As parents, we must also be mindful and aware that the space that our architects design for us can be very powerful as it has the ability to affect our mood, our perception and even our health.