Side Effects of Watching TV While Eating on You & Your Child

Is Watching TV While Eating Harming You and Your Kids?

Medically Reviewed By
Dr. Rashmi Prakash (Psychologist/Psychotherapist)
View more Psychologist/Psychotherapist Our Panel of Experts

Screen addiction is common in children these days, and most parents today complain that their kids spend a lot of time in front of the television. If you have a fussy eater, chances are that you let him watch his favourite cartoon on television or on the laptop just to get him to eat what’s served on his plate. We get you, parents, and you must do what you need to do in order to get your child to eat. But resorting to screen time to get your child to eat food may do him more harm than good.

Why Eating While Watching Television Could Be a Bad Idea

If your mealtime involves screentime too, then you must understand the potential problems it may cause. Here are some issues that may arise if you and your kids eat in front of a screen.

1. Overeating and Obesity

People tend to eat more while watching TV as they don’t really pay attention to what served on their plate and how much they should eat. As a result, they end up eating more. Eating too much eventually can lead to obesity. Children also overeat while watching their favourite cartoons. They may demand unhealthy snacks too which is a cause of obesity in children.

2. Distraction

When eating food and watching TV, the brain is distracted and sends out the wrong signals to the body and does not process the taste or satisfaction of the palette.

3. Unhealthy Eating Habits

Children tend to develop unhealthy eating habits when they eat while watching their favourite cartoons on television or online. They gorge on unhealthy snacks while concentrating on the TV and soon munching on snacks while watching television becomes a habit.

4. Lower Metabolism

Watching TV while eating lowers the metabolic rate leading to the food being digested slower and the fat being burned slowly. If your child eats in front of the television and is not physically active, he is likely to have low metabolism.

5. Indigestion

Eating while watching TV can also lead to indigestion. When you eat, you are unable to process how much and what you are eating while watching TV. You may overeat as a result, which could cause digestion problems.

7. No Family Interaction

If everyone is more interested in watching TV while eating, the conversation that families usually enjoy during meals will not take place, and there will be less time for family bonding.

No Family Interaction

Is Your Kid Only Eating While Watching TV?

Children who are fussy eaters may eat if they are allowed to watch their favourite shows on television. The distraction makes it easier for parents to get them to eat. Unfortunately, this can form a habit, and your child may not want to eat without the television on. Children can be weaned off this habit, and while they may fuss and throw tantrums at first, they will eventually learn to eat without watching TV. If your child eats only in front of the television, find out how you can get him rid of this habit.

Tips to Keep Your Child Away From the TV While He Eats

Here are some tips on how to stop your toddler from watching TV while eating.

  • When trying to stop your child from watching television at mealtimes, make sure that you are not distracted by the TV, mobile or laptop. Give complete attention to your child and keep the gadgets away so that he will know that mealtimes are about food and family, and lots of bonding!
  • If your child already has the habit of watching TV while eating, you can get him rid of this habit with the trick we are about to tell you. The trick is to feed your child when he is really hungry, but not starving. When your child will be hungry, he is less likely to throw tantrums or ask for his favourite cartoon. You must ensure that that you do not allow his snack time to be too close to their mealtimes. If your child is really hungry, he will not be bothered about whether he has the TV in front of him or not.
  • Take it slow with your little one. You can start by having a five-minute mealtime without TV, and then gradually increase the time. If your child throws a fit and does not eat enough at mealtimes because of no screentime, it’s okay. Don’t give in just yet. You can always give him a snack later, but make sure that it is not done in front of the TV. This will help break the association that your child has formed with eating and TV.
  • Ensure that you have meals together as a family and that nobody watches TV or uses a phone while eating. By observing you, your child will learn that mealtimes are for family and that they should not use phones or watch television while eating.
  • If nothing works and your child refuses to eat without the TV, you can consult a therapist or professional for help.

It may be hard to stop your child from watching television while eating, but it’s not impossible. Don’t let this issue become a habit. And if your child already has the habit of watching TV while eating, then wean him off gradually with the help of the above-mentioned tips. Remember that these days, our lives are very busy and mealtimes are the only way in which we really get to spend time with our loved ones and bond with them. So make sure you and your child enjoy your mealtimes together sans television and gadgets. A family that eats together, laughs together, stays together!

Also Read:

Influence of Advertising on Kids
Harmful Effects of Gadgets on Children
How Cartoons Affect Child’s Behaviour and Development

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