WebMD Medical News
Louise Chang, MD
Oct. 1, 2007 -- Watching more than two hours of television a day may lead to
behavioral problems among young children, according to a new study.
Researchers found that children who watched more than two hours of
television per day from age 2 1/2 until age 5 1/2 were more likely to develop
sleep, attention, and aggressive behavior problems than those who watched
In addition, researchers found 5 1/2-year-olds who watched more than two
hours of television per day also had fewer social skills.
Researcher Kamila B. Mistry, MPH, of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of
Public Health, and colleagues say the results suggests that the timing of
television exposure among children may be significant, and they highlight the
need to monitor children’s television use, especially during the early
The study, published in Pediatrics, involved more than 2,700 children
whose parents were interviewed by telephone about their television viewing
habits at age 2 1/2 and again at 5 1/2.
The results showed that 16% of parents said their child watched more than
two hours of television a day at age 2 1/2, compared with 15% of 5
1/2-year-olds who watched more than two hours of TV per day.
Twenty percent of parents reported that their child watched more than two
hours of television per day at both ages. This sustained exposure to television
was associated with problems with sleep, attention, and aggressive
Early exposure to television was not associated with any problems with
social skills, but watching more than two hours a day at age 5 1/2 was linked
to fewer social skills.
The study also showed that 41% of children had a television in their room by
age 5 1/2, and having a television in the bedroom was associated with sleep
problems and less emotional reactivity at age 5 1/2.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends not having a television set in
children’s bedrooms and discourages television viewing among children under 2
years old, with no more than two hours per day of TV recommended for children
SOURCES: Mistry, K. Pediatrics, October 2007; advance online edition.
News release, American Academy of Pediatrics.
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