News & Media

Should Teens Have TVs in Their Bedrooms?

With laptops, tablets, and smartphones everywhere, does it really matter whether our teens also have TVs in their bedrooms? A large percentage of parents don’t think so. A Neilsen Survey revealed that there’s a TV in the bedroom of 71% of 8- to 18-year-olds.

Yet there are studies that suggest that kids with TVs in their bedroom read less, perform worse in school, and tend to have sleep issues. Studies also link hours of television viewing to childhood obesity. But the relationship between a TV in the bedroom and these undesirable outcomes may be correlative, not causal. These results don’t necessarily prove that the bedroom TV causes the harm.  In fact, many currently happy and self-sufficient parents zoned out on endless hours of Dukes of Hazard and Monday Night Football in their childhood bedrooms.

But what do we know? 

We know that the internet requires actively choosing the content consumed, while TV allows only passive consumption. Children using the internet at least choose their destination when they wish, while the TV dictates what we watch and when.Laptops, tablets, and smartphones allow us to avoid video commercials almost entirely and quickly click through other ads.  TV forces our children to sit through ads, one contributing factor perhaps to TV’s link with obesity: those fast food and junk food ads can be tempting.

TVs represent one more screen for parents to combat, and even when off, that television screen may be a distraction to impressionable children. And with a 2012 Gallup Student Poll revealing that 60% of high school students are unmotivated and disconnected, any additional distraction doesn’t help. Our hard-working teachers have challenging enough jobs already.

As parents, we hope our children learn to steer their own course as we protect their ship from the rocks.  We hope their course leads towards productive passions and a self-sufficient, fulfilling adulthood. All sorts of statistics suggest that a two- or four-year college degree with minimal debt dramatically helps that cause.  It’s difficult to see how a TV in a child’s bedroom does.

John Baylor is a father, husband, author, Stanford grad, broadcaster, and owner of John Baylor Prep. The mission of JBP is to help families and schools create two- and four-year college graduates with minimal debt. You can listen to the John Baylor Prep Show by subscribing on iTunes or by going to The show also runs on Nebraska stations KHUB (1340 AM) in Fremont, KNCY (1600 AM) in Nebraska City, KLIN (1400 AM)in Lincoln. Check listing for days and times.


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