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Excessive TV Spurs Attention Trouble in Kids
Date:9/4/2007

But the new study is at odds with much of the previous research, experts say

TUESDAY, Sept. 4 (HealthDay News) -- Watching more than two hours of television daily during childhood increases the likelihood of attention problems in adolescence, according to a new study.

Yet far from settling the debate, the findings add more confusion to the debate on whether television viewing might contribute to attention problems. The new research largely agrees with one previous study but disagrees with two others.

"I wouldn't advocate that watching TV is a good thing," said Tara Stevens, assistant professor of educational psychology at Texas Tech University in Lubbock, who in 2006 published a study finding no link between television viewing and hyperactivity disorder. "I'm just not sure there's a direct relationship between having a disorder and watching TV. I don't think that's definitive. This is one important piece to the argument, but it is still not the end," she said.

The current study is published in the September issue of Pediatrics and led by Robert John Hancox of the University of Otago in Dunedin, New Zealand. His team monitored the television-viewing habits of more than 1,000 children born in Dunedin in 1972 and 1973 between the ages of 5 and 15, as well as reports of attention problems at ages 13 and 15.

The authors determined that watching more than two hours of television per day between the ages of 5 and 11 increased the likelihood of attention problems in adolescence, with each hour of television viewing increasing the risk of "high adolescent attention problems" -- that is, the top 10 percent of attention difficulties -- by about 40 percent. This association held even after accounting for gender, socioeconomic status, early attention problems, and early cognitive ability.

"We found the amount of television did predict the amount of problems at age 13 and 15," Hancox said. "And th
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