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,"
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
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
"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
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 eating...to 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.
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