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TV Viewing and Your Child's Sleep

Non-violent TV options are best for improved sleep for children.

A recent news article has a lot to say about helping children get to sleep faster, stay asleep better, and wake up more rested. The answer: television.

Yes, television. Specifically, non-violent television is shown to improve children’s sleep patterns by as much as 20%. Participants were 565 local children, divided into “healthy media” and control groups. Researchers at the Seattle Children’s Hospital Research Institute sent social workers to the “healthy media” families and assisted them in switching out television options for “pro-social” choices. Neither families in the healthy media nor control groups were instructed to reduce or otherwise limit TV viewing. For this study, the only change was the type of program the children watched, making the switch from violent to positive programming.

“Pro-social” shows teach a positive message of friendliness, sharing, cooperation and empathy. As it happens, that is exactly the type of children’s programming provided through Public Broadcasting. Though the article didn’t specifically say that families were switching to PBSKids, study author Dr. Michelle Garrison says “shows such as Sesame Street, Curious George and Dora the Explorer can be beneficial for preschool-aged children because they emphasize social skills and teach numbers and literacy.”

In the end, children in the healthy media group were 20% less likely to have issues sleeping.

If you think this is the kind of change that could help your family, or if you just want to learn more, check out PBS Parents for more information on Children and Media.