TV viewing linked to antisocial behavior - sort of


When five year-olds watch television for three or more hours a day they have an increasingly higher risk of developing antisocial behaviors such as stealing or fighting by age seven. But it’s a very small risk. During this project, researcher found that the amount of time spent playing computer or electronic games had no effect on behavior.

This study focuses on the immediate effect on young children

There has been plenty of research on kids and screen viewing. Long viewing times has been associated with a variety of behavioral issues in kids and adults. Excessive TV viewing has been associated with criminal behavior later in life. It is also linked to reduced muscular fitness. This new study aimed to narrow the scope to kids between ages of five and seven. They wanted to note the short term psychological and social effects of watching television or playing video games.

Large study from the UK

More than 11,000 kids participated in the study. The study was conducted using data from the Millennium Cohort Study which has been observing the long-term well-being and development of children born between 2000 and 2002 in the UK. The data comes from mothers who fill out a Strengths and Difficulties (SDQ) questionnaire at five and again at seven years old. The questionnaire measures the children’s social adjustment by evaluating: conduct problems, poor, attention span/hyperactivity, hard time making friends, emotional symptoms, and empathy for others. The parents also recorded the amount of time spent in front of the television.

Children are watching a lot of TV, but with little short term effect

Nearly two-thirds of the kids watched TV between one and three hour each day when they were five years old. As many as 15% watched TV more than three hours a day. Only 2% did not watch television at all. Researchers found that after adjusting for various factors, kids who watched TV more than three hours a day were linked to a very small increased chance of antisocial behavior by the time they were seven.

Still, parents should be cautious

“The links between heavy screen time and mental health may be indirect, rather than direct, such as increased sedentary behavior, sleeping difficulties, and impaired language development, and that the child’ own temperament may predict screen time habits,” according to the study published in Archives of Disease in Childhood.

Source: MedicalNewsToday


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