Television Habits in Pre-school Children and their Correlation with Sleeping Disorders

Introduction: Television is, nowadays, one of the major means of information, education and entertainment, not only for adults but for children as well. It has been found that the impact, positive or negative, of television on children is important and depends on the time and the kind of programmes they watch. Aim: To record the television viewing habits of pre-school children, to assess the parental attitudes towards their children’s television watching and to detect potential correlation with sleeping disorders. Method: The sample consisted of 520 parents of pre-school children. Data collection took place from November 2012 to January 2013 in kindergartens of the region of Attica-Athens and Thessaloniki, after obtaining the informed permission of parents. A demographic data sheet, the Children’s Television-Viewing Habits Questionnaire (CTVQ) and The Children’s Sleep Habits Questionnaire (CSHQ) were used for data collection. Statistical analysis was performed using the Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS), v. 19.0. Results: It was reported that 64.2% of the children watched television with their parents, and 76.5% did not have a television set in their own room. The vast majority of parents reported that they choose the content of the programmes for their children, mostly cartoons and children’s television shows. A higher level of parental education and a greater number of children in the family were negatively associated with hours of TV viewing of children. Although most of the parents evaluated the quality of the television programmes as moderate (59.0%) and the effect of the television on their children, and especially of the commercials, as being negative (64.0%), only 37.4% of them took measures to control this. The parents reported that their children always slept on their own, at a standard time; only a small number (11.0%) needed a parent in the room in order to go to sleep. Most of them stated that their children were often afraid to sleep in the dark and were nervous, but only 3.1% of the children woke up sweaty and terrified. Conclusions: Pre-school children watch television every day without this causing sleeping problems. The viewing habits of pre-school children are correlated with the level of education of their parents, who characterize the television programmes as being poor in quality and encourage their children to engage in other extracurricular activities.