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TV not a villain for children, survey finds

Tuesday 11 Oct 2011
Watching television won’t turn preschoolers into couch potatoes, according to a survey in Australia, The Sydney Morning Herald reports.
The hours that four-year-olds spend watching TV do not have a substantial impact on the hours they spend in free play, according to The Play Project, a new national survey.

TV not a villain for children, survey finds

The results surprised researcher Bronwyn Harman of Western Australia’s Edith Cowan University, who will present her findings at the National Playgroup Conference in Melbourne on Friday.

”We were sure that television would have a big effect, but the results don’t show that at all,” she said.

Instead, structured programmes such as dance, swimming, music and sporting classes were most likely to eat away at the inclination for free play.

”Parents think they need to have more activities but we’re in danger of overscheduling our children,” Dr Harman said. ”Unstructured play is so important (at four). That’s when children use their imagination, or learn to do role playing…or develop abstract thoughts.”

The best way to encourage children to play, Dr Harman found, was to read with them.

”I’m guessing that because the parent has participated in reading, the child is happy to go play unsupervised,” she said.