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TV Watching at Age 2 Spells Trouble Later

Study Finds Early TV Exposure Linked to Problems at Age 10

Television Viewing and Kids: Effects continued...

The children exposed to too much TV were also likely to be victimized, she found, explaining that social relationships take practice and effort. "Kids who do too much media, studies have shown this, tend to be socially isolated."

Not having social skills, she says, may make the kids targets for being teased and insulted by classmates.

Each additional hour of TV viewing at age 29 months (over the average for each child) was linked to a range of effects, Pagani found, including:

  • 7% decrease in classroom engagement
  • 6% decrease in math achievement
  • 10% increase in being victimized by peers
  • 13% decrease in physical activity on weekends
  • 9% higher intake of soft drinks
  • 5% increase in probability of being overweight as calculated by BMI


Television Viewing and Kids: Other Opinions

The new findings are no surprise to Ed Christophersen, PhD, a clinical child psychologist at Children's Mercy Hospitals and Clinics in Kansas City, Mo., who reviewed the study results for WebMD.

The new research, he says, documents what he and his colleagues have believed about the link between too much TV and developmental and other problems.

''This study pulls together multiple measures that many of us thought were affected by early TV, but now we know they are," Christophersen tells WebMD. He reminds parents that TV time limits should also include "screen" time from computers and other media.

Most parents are aware of the hazards of too much screen time, says Rahil Briggs, PsyD, director of the Healthy Steps at Montefiore Medical Center and assistant professor of pediatrics at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York, who also reviewed the findings.

Parents rely on TV for a break, she finds. "I think it's because parents are overworked, exhausted, and really highly stressed.”

Although that's fine for occasional ''breathing room," she suggests parents think of other ways to relax without leaning on TV.

"Take your child to the park," she suggests, so he can learn to interact and you can still relax a bit.

"If you have to plop down in front of the TV, have a conversation with your kid about what you are watching," she says. "Make it an interactive experience."


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