TV not good for toddlers – study

2009-11-03 12:16

THE more TV that a three-year-old watches, the more likely he or

she is to behave aggressively, according to a US study, adding that just having

the TV on in the background, even if the child wasn’t watching it, was also

linked to aggressive behaviour although the relationship wasn’t as strong.

“Parents should be smart about TV use,” researcher Jennifer

Manganello from the State University of New York at Albany, commonly known as

the University at Albany, told Reuters Health.

“They should limit the time that children use TV, pay attention to

the content of TV programmes, and consider how TV is used throughout the


The study looked at 3?128 women from 20 US cities who had a child

between 1998 and 2000. While there was some diversity of education among the

study participants, one-third hadn’t graduated from high school. Two-thirds of

the mothers said their three-year-olds watched more than two hours of TV a day,

and the average viewing time for children was around three hours.

On average, the TV was on for about five additional hours on a

typical day.

After accounting for factors known to be associated with aggressive

behaviour, such as living in a violent neighbourhood or having a mother who

suffers from depression, TV watching and household TV time were both still

significantly associated with aggressive behaviour such as hitting others,

having angry moods, being disobedient, and screaming a lot.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no TV at all for

children two years and younger, and two hours a day or less for older children,

lead researcher Manganello and her team from the Tulane University School of

Public Health and Tropical Medicine noted in their report.

There are a number of ways that excessive TV viewing could

contribute to a child’s degree of aggressive behaviour, the researchers add in

their study published in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent


Children may see violence on TV, and time spent watching TV may

mean less time for behaviours that help children develop positively, such as

reading or playing.

“We really don’t know what’s going on for certain,” Manganello

said, adding that future research was needed to look both at TV content and at

what’s going on in a child’s home when the TV is on.

But Manganello said the findings show that parents have to consider

the “overall TV environment” of the home, as well as how much TV their child is


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