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TV Time May Not Be Benign
Date:4/3/2009

Behavioral problems, obesity more likely in kids who watch 2 hours-plus a day

FRIDAY, April 3 (HealthDay News) -- Parking the kids in front of the TV might seem like an easy way to grab a couple of minutes to relax after work or make dinner, but too much TV time is definitely not a good thing.

Researchers have found that, along with significantly increasing the risk of childhood obesity, the likelihood of behavioral problems also goes up when kids watch more than two hours a day of TV.

"Sustained TV watching has a negative effect on behavior and social skills," said Carla Weidman, a psychologist in the child development unit at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh.

When children are watching TV, she explained, they're not engaging in other important activities, such as imaginative play. They're also not interacting with others to learn social skills and appropriate ways to resolve conflicts."

"When TV is used as a babysitter or passive entertainment, that's when it's a problem," said Dr. Christopher Lucas, director of the early childhood service at the New York University Child Study Center in New York City. "But, the reality is that parents can't interact with their children all the time, and they have a need for a temporary babysitter."

Some parents might take comfort in the idea that television offerings include educational programming.

"There's a belief that if children are put in front of some educational medium, that it's somehow a good thing," Lucas said. "But, there's evidence that the positive effect of educational programming in the absence of parental interaction is modest."

The average child today spends 45 hours a week with some form of media, compared with just 30 hours in school, according to a report from Common Sense Media. Prepared by researchers from Yale, the U.S. National Institutes of Health and California Pacific Medical Center, the report compiled d
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