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580,000 Spanish kids glued to TV after bedtime

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580,000 Spanish kids glued to TV after bedtime
A staggering 132,000 children stay glued to the TV between 12pm and 1.30am. Photo of child watching TV: Shutterstock
13:41 CET+01:00
Experts say TV networks are deliberately airing children's favourite TV shows until as late as 1.30 in the morning in a bid to increase ratings.

With the country’s late night lifestyle being recently associated with lower than average levels of work productivity, it seems Spaniards are being encouraged to pick up the bad habit at an early age.

The latest ratings show that as many as 589,000 children under the age of 12 are watching television after 10pm, which account for 3.6 percent of the total audience.

That’s when many of the new big-hit reality TV shows geared towards youngsters are being aired, including La Voz Kids (The Voice Kids) and Masterchef Junior.

Although numbers drop as the hours pass, a staggering 132,000 children stay glued to “la caja tonta” (The silly box, as it’s known in Spain) between 12pm and 1.30am.

Spain’s Association of Media Users (AUC) say the “undeniable hook” being employed by the TV networks is forcing children to give up hours of sleep for their favourite shows.

"Then they wake up late the next morning, they don't eat breakfast, they arrive late at school," AUC president Alejandro Perales told The Guardian.

Another factor playing a part is that popular Spanish TV series last an average 73 minutes, compared to the average 45-minute duration of most international TV shows.

“It’s a Spanish anomaly. We’ve moved away from the international standard,” Perales told El País.

TV networks are defending themselves by saying they air most of their popular TV shows for children on Sunday mornings and afternoons, but as the AUC president argues: “spectators, including young ones, value the immediacy of watching the first broadcast”.

Proponents of a change to kid’s prime time broadcasts are also scrutinizing the general lateness of Spain’s TV schedule.

The Association for the Rationalization of Spanish Working Hoursargues prime time should be brought forward an hour, particularly films and football matches which sometimes kick off as late as 11:00 pm.

According to their latest figures, Spaniards sleep 53 minutes less than the European average partly due to the influence of late night TV.

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