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Does watching a lot of television make kids nutty and mean? The answer, according to a study published in the medical journal Archives of Diseases in Childhood, is yes.

The report — Do television and electronic games predict children’s psychosocial adjustment? Longitudinal research using the UK Millennium Cohort Study — found that 5-year-old kids who watched more than three hours of television were more likely to act out in antisocial ways by the time they turned seven as compared to kids that watched an hour or less TV during the day. And the effect was the same for boys and girls.

This wasn’t a small study, either. It looked at more than 18,000 children living in the U.K. in Wales, Scotland and northern Ireland, with more than 11,000 participating. At the start of the survey, “almost two-thirds of children watched TV for between one and three hours daily, with 15 percent watching TV for more than three hours. Only two percent didn’t watch TV at all. From the study: “This study found that watching television, videos or DVDs for three hours or more daily was associated with a small increase in conduct problems between the ages of 5 years and 7 years, after allowing for other child and family characteristics, including parenting. Findings are in line with other research on younger children aged 2–4 years and older children showing associations between TV exposure and aggressive behavior and bullying.”

It sort of makes sense. My kids are up for about 12 or so hours a day. If they spent a quarter of their waking moments in front of a screen instead of interacting with people and practicing social skills those skills would probably suffer — especially since television shows a skewed and often completely disconnected view of the world.

I really don’t have to worry about this with the big one. She, as I have mentioned before, would rather have her nose stuck in a book or be playing with her dolls. The little one, however, takes after her Daddy. I need to limit her screen time or she’d watch TV morning, noon, and night. (Literally…we once caught her watching the iPad TV app at midnight. She lost her Bitty Babies for a week that time.) Now that I have real proof, I will make sure I am even more careful with limiting her screen time. How about you?

2 Responses to “Too Much TV Can Turn Kids into Meanies”

  1. Zara says:

    I can totally relate to this! Even in the short-term I have a 3 year old who gets all sorts of belligerent after a stint in front of the tube. Thanks for posting!

  2. Great topic! I completely agree that too much TV makes some kids antisocial/meaner. After teaching for many years – I noticed the kids who bragged about their afternoons and evenings spent watching TV and playing video games were also the same kids who had trouble in the classroom (staying focused, working well with others, etc.). I also learned that keeping the TV on even in the background inhibits babies from learning language as quickly – very interesting!

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