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Too much TV for kids linked to bad adult behavior

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
Study shows too much TV in childhood boosts chances of crime in adulthood

Results of a new study show kids who watch more than 1 to 2 hours of television a day are more likely to be aggressive, criminal adults. The finding highlights the importance of limiting TV time for children and also suggests choosing quality shows for them to watch that can ensure positive social behaviors in adulthood.

For their study, researchers at University of Otago, New Zealand found the risk of being convicted of a crime in adulthood increased by 30 percent for every extra hour of TV watched during childhood.

Children who were followed into adulthood by the researchers and questioned about how much TV they watched were also more likely to display antisocial behaviors in early adulthood compared to kids who spent less time watching television.

Lindsay Robertson who co-authored the study says it’s not that children were antisocial to start with. The more television they viewed, the more likely they were to grow into antisocial adults with at least one criminal conviction.The researchers say TV can promote negative emotions and behavior, seen in the children studied.

The researchers followed 1000 children every two years between age 5 to 15 to find out how TV might lead to aggression and crime.

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The authors say too much time in front of the tube raised antisocial behavior even when socioeconomic, factors, parenting and early childhood behaviors were taken into account. The recommended amount of television per night according to the American Academy of Pediatrics is no more than 2 hours of quality programming per night.

Past studies show too much time in front of the computer or television is also a contributor to childhood obesity. Another new study shows how some children with aggression might benefit from television shows.

Associate Professor Bob Hancox of the University's Department of Preventive and Social Medicine says the finding doesn't show too much TV is turning all children into antisocial adults or criminals. But he does say a little less television for kids might have a positive effect for reducing antisocial behavior in society. The finding is published in the journal Pediatrics.

University of Otago
February 18, 2013

doi: 10.1542/peds.2012-1582

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