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TV Viewing Time Linked
to Kids' Behavior Problems

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Kids who spend more time watching TV--regardless of the content of the programming--are more likely to behave aggressively and have other types of social problems, a study has found.

"Prolonged television watching may be considered to be one of the new symptoms of this era of technology, and it deserves more attention and evaluation in every aspect," write study author Dr. Elif Ozmert of Hacettepe University in Ankara, Turkey and colleagues.

"Families should be advised to restrict the television viewing hours of their children and to encourage them to participate in active peer relationships," they add.

To investigate whether television viewing might have effects on children's behavior, the researchers surveyed the parents of 689 students in the second and third grades.

They found that the children watched about 2.5 hours of television each day, on average, with their viewing time increasing during the weekend, according to the report in the September issue of Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine.

The more television a child watched, the more likely he or she was to exhibit social problems and delinquent and aggressive behavior, the report indicates.

For example, children who watched more than 4 hours of television daily showed more delinquent and aggressive behavior than those who watched 2 hours or less per day. And this aggressive behavior was seen regardless of the content of the television programming, the researchers note.

"Thus, it was speculated that not only the prolonged television viewing but perhaps the inactivity and social isolation while watching television may have contributed to increased aggressive behavior scores," the authors write.

The children's age and sex were also associated with their likelihood of watching more than 2 hours of television daily, study findings indicate.

With every one-year increase in age, kids were 33% more likely to watch more than 2 hours of television per day. And boys were nearly twice as likely as girls to watch more than two hours of television daily.

It is not known, however, whether television viewing puts children at risk of behavior problems, or if children with behavior problems are just more likely to watch television, the researchers note.

"In either direction, it deserves further consideration," they write.

Commenting on the study, Dr. Flaura Koplin Winston of Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania told Reuters Health that it gives "more evidence we need to be watching what the children are watching."

"Television is a very powerful influence on children on everything from what they should be how they should behave," she said. Yet, while great importance is often placed on other issues, such as "who will be our child's babysitter, sometimes we don't look at this television thing," she said.

SOURCE: Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine 2002;156:910-914.

Reference Source 89


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