USA Today (2/18, Healy) reported, “In one of the largest studies yet to examine how modifying television content affects the development of young children ages 3 to 5, researchers report that six months after families reduced their kids’ exposure to aggressive and violence-filled programming and increased exposure to enriching and educational programming – even without changing the number of viewing hours – kids demonstrated statistically significant improved behavior compared to children whose media diet went unchanged.” These “improvements – declines in aggression and being difficult and increases in healthy social behaviors such as empathy, helpfulness and concern for others – persisted at 12 months, says the study involving 565 families in…Pediatrics.”
The New York Times (2/18, A10, Louis, Subscription Publication) reported, “Low-income boys showed the most improvement, though the researchers could not say why. Total viewing time did not differ between the two groups.”
The Los Angeles Times (2/18, Morin) “Booster Shots” blog reports that, according to the researchers, “Although television is frequently implicated as a cause of many problems in children, our research indicates that it may also be part of the solution.”
The AP (2/19, Blankinship) reports that while “the results were modest and faded over time,” they “may hold promise for finding ways to help young children avoid aggressive, violent behavior, the study authors and other doctors said.”
The CNN (2/18) “The Chart” blog points out that currently, “the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that preschoolers and older children get only one to two hours of TV or screen time a day. But in reality, they’re really watching much more.”
The ABC News (2/18) “Medical Unit” blog reports on that study, as well as a separate study published in Pediatrics that found “young adults who spent more time in front of a TV during their childhood are significantly more likely to be arrested and exhibit aggressive behavior.” Investigators “followed more than 1,000 young people in New Zealand from birth to age 26 and monitored the amount of television they watched during the ages of 5 and 15.” The researchers found that “the more television children watched, the more likely they were to have a criminal conviction, a diagnosis of antisocial personality disorder and more aggressive personality traits.”
HealthDay (2/19, Dotinga) reports that while “the study doesn’t definitively prove that watching TV caused criminal activity or aggression…the researchers found that other factors (including poverty levels and IQ) didn’t play a role.” Also covering the first study wereTime (2/19, Rochman) “Family Matters” blog, Reuters (2/19, Pittman) and the CBS News (2/19, Jaslow) website.
— “Modifying kids’ TV habits may improve behavior, “Michelle Healy, USA Today, February 18, 2013.