Heavy TV Viewing Linked to Problem Behavior in Children

Sleep and emotional reactivity may be disrupted in children allowed TV in the bedroom

THURSDAY, Oct. 4 (HealthDay News) -- Young children permitted prolonged television viewing may develop social and behavioral problems, but children whose early television watching is curtailed are not at extra risk, researchers report in the October issue of Pediatrics.

Kamila Mistry, of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, and colleagues analyzed national survey data on television viewing at 30 to 33 months, and television viewing, behavior and social skills at 5.5 years.

One-fifth of parents said their child watched more than two hours daily at 30 to 33 months and 5.5 years, 15 percent watched more than two hours daily at 5.5 years, and 16 percent watched more than two hours daily at 30 to 33 months, the researchers report.

Concurrent and sustained television viewing were associated with social and behavioral problems, respectively, unless exposure only happened early, the researchers found. Television in the bedroom, emotional detachment at 5.5 years, and sleep disturbances were linked.

"Sustained exposure is a risk factor for behavioral problems, whereas early exposure that is subsequently reduced presents no additional risk," the authors write. "For social skills, concurrent exposure was more important than sustained or early exposure."

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