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Kids' TV Viewing Tied to Behavioral Problems
Date:10/1/2007

But the 'off' switch may reverse the chance of trouble down the road, study says

MONDAY, Oct. 1 (HealthDay News) -- If your toddler is watching a lot of TV, turn it off now and save yourself a lot of trouble later.

That's the conclusion of a new study that suggests that the negative effects of lots of early TV viewing on children can be overcome by limiting viewing before the age of 6.

The study doesn't confirm that television is actually bad for young kids. Nor does it show exactly how much of a cutback would help children exposed to lots of TV early in life. Still, lead author Kamila Mistry, a doctoral candidate at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, said it makes a strong case for a "significant" difference in behavioral problems in kids depending on their viewing.

"It's never too late," Mistry said. "That's an important message for parents as well as pediatricians, encouraging parents to turn off the TV and think about alternative activities for kids."

Television, of course, has long been blamed for a variety of ills among children, from lethargy and obesity to shortened attention spans. The American Academy of Pediatrics discourages kids under 2 from watching any TV at all, and it says older kids shouldn't watch more than two hours a day.

Why take another look at TV and children? According to Mistry, the new study is unusual, because it followed kids over time -- from 2.5 years to 5.5 years -- and measured the effects of changing levels of TV watching.

The researchers looked at the results of surveys of 2,702 families who enrolled in a national study between 1996 and 1998. The kids were followed from birth to age 5.5.

Twenty percent of parents said their kids watched at least two hours of TV a day at both 2.5 and 5.5 years. Four in 10 children had TVs in their bedrooms at age 5.5.

Even when the researchers adjusted the study results to account fo
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