Prather Pediatric and Allergy Center - Ask Doctor Brent

Printer Friendly Version

Title: Policing Children's TV Viewing

Category: Child Care


The American Academy of Pediatrics feels strongly that children in the United States are unfairly bombarded by rough TV and powerful advertising. Should our children be over- exposed to adds telling them exactly what to eat, what toys to play with and what clothes to wear on a daily basis and particularly, for hour after hour, on Saturday mornings? The American Academy of Pediatrics feels that they should not. In 1990, the children's television act was passed which mandates that broadcasters present at least a balance of children's educational or instructional programming along with advertisements and entertaining programming. This balance is required for license renewal and is backed by the Federal Communications Commission of the federal government. In order for this act to be effective, all Americans need to police the television viewing of their children and the local programming of their station.

Recent polls show that for Saturday morning programming, food commercials made up 71% of network adds. This is usually while children are watching cartoons. Thirty percent were for breakfast cereals and over 30% were for candies and snacks. Toys filled up most of the remainder of the advertising. In fact, many of the shows were written and designed to promote the toys which were advertised during the regular weekly cartoon. Likewise, certain cereals are advertised by the shows and named after characters in the shows.

In other words, we are letting our children watch hour after hour of program length commercials unless we as concerned parents decide to put some pressure on the networks which air these programs.

The American Academy of Pediatrics feels that the over commercialization of children's television is unfair to the children in our society and wastes a potentially valuable resource. That is to say that television could be a great teaching tool as well as providing a balance of entertainment and relaxation. In reality, it usually provides far too many hours of carefully tailored commercials to influence children in buying and lots of wasted hours without any real learning. The American Academy of Pediatrics continues to support development of alternative programs for children in an effort to stop such program length commercials. The American Academy of Pediatrics is made up of over 47 thousand pediatricians who are dedicated child advocates and we will continue to fight this battle for better television programming.

We appreciate all the help we can get from other child advocate groups and especially from parents throughout our country. I urge you to take an active role in policing the television programming in your own viewing area and to limit the amount of television your children are allowed to watch particularly while they are young.