Childhood TV viewing a risk for behavior problems

October 01, 2007

Daily television viewing for two or more hours in early childhood can lead to behavioral problems and poor social skills, according to a study of children 2.5 to 5.5 years of age conducted by researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. The Hopkins researchers found that the impact of TV viewing on a child's behavior and social skills varied by the age at which the viewing occurred. More importantly, heavy television viewing that decreased over time was not associated with behavior or social problems. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children under age 2 watch no television while children age 2 and older are limited to no more than two hours of daily viewing. The study is published in the October 2007 issue of Pediatrics.

"A number of studies have demonstrated negative effects of heavy television viewing. However, timing of exposure is an important consideration as reducing viewing to acceptable levels can reduce the risk of behavioral and social problems," said Kamila Mistry, MPH, lead author of the study and a doctoral candidate in the Bloomberg School's Department of Population, Family and Reproductive Health.

For the study, the research team analyzed data for 2,707 children collected from the Healthy Steps for Young Children national evaluation. Parents were surveyed about their child's television viewing habits and behavior at 2.5 and at 5.5 years of age.

Sixteen percent of parents reported that their children watched two hours or more of television daily at 2.5 years of age (early exposure), while 15 percent reported that their children watched two hours or more of television daily at 5.5 years of age (concurrent exposure). One in five parents reported that their children watched two hours or more of television daily at both 2.5 years and at 5.5 years of age (sustained exposure). Sustained exposure to television was associated with behavioral problems. However, early exposure that was subsequently reduced was not a risk for behavior problems. Concurrent viewing was associated with fewer social skills, while sustained and early viewing had less of an impact on social skill development.

The study also found that having a television in the child's bedroom at 5.5 years of age was associated with behavioral problems, poor social skills and poor sleep. Forty-one percent of the children included in the study had a television in his or her bedroom.

"Children who reduced their viewing by 5.5 years of age were not at greater risk for behavior and social problems," said Cynthia Minkovitz, MD, MPP, senior author of the study and associate professor with the School's Department of Population, Family and Reproductive Health. "It is vital for clinicians to emphasize the importance of reducing television viewing in early childhood among those children with early use."
-end-
"Children's Television Exposure and Behavioral and Social Outcomes at 5.5 years: Does Timing of Exposure Matter?" was written by Kamila B. Mistry, MPH; Cynthia S. Minkovitz, MD, MPP; Donna M. Strobino, PhD; and Dina L. G. Borzekowski, EdD.

Data collection for this research was supported by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, the Commonwealth Fund.

For public health news updated throughout the day, visit www.jhsph.edu/publichealthnews.

Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health

Related Public Health Articles from Brightsurf:

COVID-19 and the decolonization of Indigenous public health
Indigenous self-determination, leadership and knowledge have helped protect Indigenous communities in Canada during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, and these principles should be incorporated into public health in future, argue the authors of a commentary in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal) http://www.cmaj.ca/lookup/doi/10.1503/cmaj.200852.

Public health consequences of policing homelessness
In a new study examining homelessness, researchers find that policy such a lifestyle has massive public health implications, making sleeping on the street even MORE unhealthy.

Electronic health information exchange improves public health disease reporting
Disease tracking is an important area of focus for health departments in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Pandemic likely to cause long-term health problems, Yale School of Public Health finds
The coronavirus pandemic's life-altering effects are likely to result in lasting physical and mental health consequences for many people--particularly those from vulnerable populations--a new study led by the Yale School of Public Health finds.

The Lancet Public Health: US modelling study estimates impact of school closures for COVID-19 on US health-care workforce and associated mortality
US policymakers considering physical distancing measures to slow the spread of COVID-19 face a difficult trade-off between closing schools to reduce transmission and new cases, and potential health-care worker absenteeism due to additional childcare needs that could ultimately increase mortality from COVID-19, according to new modelling research published in The Lancet Public Health journal.

The Lancet Public Health: Access to identification documents reflecting gender identity may improve trans mental health
Results from a survey of over 20,000 American trans adults suggest that having access to identification documents which reflect their identified gender helps to improve their mental health and may reduce suicidal thoughts, according to a study published in The Lancet Public Health journal.

The Lancet Public Health: Study estimates mental health impact of welfare reform, Universal Credit, in Great Britain
The 2013 Universal Credit welfare reform appears to have led to an increase in the prevalence of psychological distress among unemployed recipients, according to a nationally representative study following more than 52,000 working-age individuals from England, Wales, and Scotland over nine years between 2009-2018, published as part of an issue of The Lancet Public Health journal on income and health.

BU researchers: Pornography is not a 'public health crisis'
Researchers from the Boston University School of Public Health (BUSPH) have written an editorial in the American Journal of Public Health special February issue arguing against the claim that pornography is a public health crisis, and explaining why such a claim actually endangers the health of the public.

The Lancet Public Health: Ageism linked to poorer health in older people in England
Ageism may be linked with poorer health in older people in England, according to an observational study of over 7,500 people aged over 50 published in The Lancet Public Health journal.

Study: Public transportation use linked to better public health
Promoting robust public transportation systems may come with a bonus for public health -- lower obesity rates.

Read More: Public Health News and Public Health Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.