More than one-third of families of 184 infants surveyed every 6 months during a 4-year period reported exposing their child to TV during meals. In all, 45% of children were frequently exposed to TV during meals within the first 4 years of life, based on parental report using a scale ranging from 1 (TV is rarely on during meals) to 5 (TV is on very often during meals). The proportion of children exposed to any TV during meals was largest (50%) at 6 months; starting at 12 months, the proportion of exposed children varied slightly, ranging from 36% to 48%. Further, most surveyed families (84%) maintained their level of exposure (frequent vs not frequent) to TV during meals from the first 24 months through 48 months of life.
Having a father with at least a college education and an annual household income of more than $50,000 were independently associated with less likelihood of having a child who was frequently exposed to TV during mealtimes (Thimmig LM, et al. Clin Pediatr (Phila). 2017;56:659-666).
Thoughts from Dr Burke
The point here is that viewing habits start early. So if you don’t want your 4-year-old patients to be eating in front of the TV or other screens (and you shouldn’t, for reasons related both to obesity and development), then you should recommend against media during mealtime very early on.