While there is no right amount of TV watching time for children, spending 35 hours or more a week in front of the tube can elevate their risk of obesity, aggression, and violent behavior, claims a new study.

A recent survey conducted by the Associated Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ASSOCHAM) has revealed that children between the ages of six and 17 spend over 35 hours a week in front of the TV, which is more time than they spend in any other activity except sleeping

Television can be entertaining and educational, opening up new worlds for kids, giving them a chance to learn about different cultures, and gain exposure.

However, the reverse can also be true because excessive TV viewing can affect kids' health, behavior and family life in negative ways.

General secretary of Assocham D.S. Rawat stated:
"Excessive television viewing among children has been linked to a greater risk of obesity and violent behaviur. The survey also reveals that the long-term effects of television on academic achievement have been less clear."
Survey of parents and kids in major cities of India

Investigators questioned more than 2,000 teenagers and 3,000 parents across major cities of the nation including Delhi, Mumbai, Pune, Chennai, Patna, Chandigarh, and Hyderabad.

The survey found that kids who watch more than four hours of television daily are more likely to be overweight.

According to researchers, children snack widely during their viewing of television which affects obesity through the reduction of energy expenditure.

Another interesting aspect of the survey was that 54 percent of the kids aged between 12 and 18 were inclined to watch different shows when alone than when they were in the company of their parents.

Also, around 76 percent of the respondents preferred watching reality shows.

A disturbing trend noticed was that more than half of kids aged four and six would rather spend time in front of the idiot box than play with friends.

"The impact of television on children depends on many factors, such as how much they watch, their age and personality, whether they watch it alone or with adults and whether parents talk to them about what they see," said Rawat.

Other highlights of the survey

The survey found that kids below the age of eight were unable to "uniformly discriminate between real life and fantasy/entertainment".

Also, it was perceived that television alone was responsible for more than 10 percent of the violence in the youth.

Children who enjoyed watching violent TV shows were more prone to hit out at friends, rebel, and argue with parents as opposed to those who refrained from viewing gory programs.

Parents concerned about content of TV programs

Nearly 90 percent of the parents had serious concerns about the abusive language and content of the prime time TV programs.

Most of the parents felt the quality of the programs was gradually deteriorating, with focus more on adult themes, vulgarity, and violence.

The survey found that 60 percent of the parents were in favor of the new regulations which restricted sex and violence in TV shows.

Clinical psychologist Chetna Duggal stated,
"Watching too much television deprives them of human interaction that is vital for social, emotional and cognitive growth. Parents play a huge role in challenging them to do different things."