(NaturalNews) Plopping toddlers in front of television sets for a few hours a day may seem as American as apple pie and baseball. But this all-too-common habit could have a dark side. According to a report in the November issue of Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, the more TV three-year-old toddlers watch, the more they demonstrate aggressive behavior.
In order to investigate possible links between household television use and aggression in youngsters, Jennifer A. Manganello, Ph.D., of the University at Albany, State University of New York, and Catherine A. Taylor, Ph.D., of Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine in New Orleans, analyzed data from 3,128 mothers of children born from 1998 to 2000 in 20 large U.S. cities. They interviewed moms when their babies were born and again when the children were one and three -- specifically asking how long the toddlers watched TV and also how long TVs were typically turned on each day in the home. Then the researchers used a 15-item test to assess aggressive behavior when the children were three-years-old.
A majority of the mothers (65 percent) reported their three-year-olds watched more than two hours of television each day. In addition, the toddlers were also exposed to an extra 5.2 hours of household TV use per day. So how does this translate into any change in the children's behavior? After accounting for other factors that could influence behavior (such as parent, family, neighborhood and demographic characteristics), the research team found that both direct watching of TV by the children as well as household TV use were significantly associated with childhood aggression.
"One explanation that could link both child and household TV measures with aggression involves the parenting environment," the authors wrote in their study. They explained that homes with higher rates of TV use probably have fewer restrictions on exactly what youngsters are watching -- so kids are more likely to be exposed to unregulated television content. In addition, the more often televisions are turned on in a household may affect daily routines such as whether people eat in front of the TV, whether they talk less to one another and whether there is a decrease in time spent on activities other than television watching.
"Current American Academy of Pediatrics recommendations mainly suggest limitations for direct child exposure to TV and other media; however, our findings suggest that additional household TV use may also be an important predictor of negative childhood outcomes, such as early childhood aggression," the authors concluded. "Future research in this area should consider inclusion of both of these TV variables along with additional parent-child interaction assessments, observational assessments when possible, quality and/or content of TV programs and longitudinal analyses."
Bottom line: common sense as well as science should make it abundantly clear that spending hours in front of television is unhealthy for young bodies and minds. For example, as NaturalNews reported earlier this year (http://www.naturalnews.com/025667.html), University of Minnesota researchers found that teens who watch more than five hours of TV each day are at high risk of becoming fast food junkies when they reach young adulthood. And a University of Pittsburg and Harvard Medical School study found that excessive TV time for teens raised their risk of depression as adults (http://www.naturalnews.com/025790_health_dep...).