Do you wish your kids would watch less TV? Experts have suggested that making household changes such as taking the television out of your child's room or setting strict rules limiting screen time are the most effective ways to ensure that your kids will watch minimal amounts of TV. But a new study shows that those efforts may be in vain; there is really only one way to get your kids to watch less of the tube — watch less TV yourself.

According to a new survey conducted by the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania, if parents watch TV in their free time, their kids will also watch TV in their free time. It's as simple as that. That holds true regardless of whether parents had set limits on TV-watching time or even whether the kids had a television in their rooms. It also didn't matter whether parents watched TV as a family with their kids or solo.

According to the survey, every hour of parental TV-watching led to another 23 minutes of TV watching by their kids. The 1,550 parents polled for the survey watched an average of four hours of TV every day. They also reported that their kids watched an average of about three hours a day — that's one hour more per day than the limit suggested by the American Academy of Pediatrics. Interestingly, in households with teenagers, the teens were also questioned and they admitted to watching more like four hours a day — one more hour per day than their parents knew about.  

Does this mean that you should put the TV back in your kids' rooms and toss out the household rules? No way. These things still likely help control the amount of TV that your kids watch. But if you really want to curb your kids' television habit, it's time to do as you say and turn that TV off. Even if you don't think your kids are paying attention to your behavior. Rest assured — they are.

The study was published in the journal Pediatrics.

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