Study: Parking toddlers in front of TV may lead to middle school victimization

We are still trying to figure out the impact of screens in our children’s development, whether the screens are televisions, computers or smartphones.

Many teachers and parents believe children’s interpersonal skills are suffering, along with their ability to focus and resist distraction. But we don’t know the lasting effects of what we use to call “e-time” for kids but now just call “all the time.”

Because children and teens no long spend an hour a day on their favorite electronic devices; it’s all day for many American children. (And their parents.)

A study released today raises new issues about how children are affected by sitting in front of a TV screen for hours. Linda Pagani is affiliated with the University of Montreal’s School of Psychoeducation and the research center at CHU Sainte Justine. Her study, “Too Much Television? Prospective Associations Between Early Childhood Televiewing and Later Self-Reports of Victimization By Sixth Grade Classmates,” appears in the Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics today.

From the University of Montreal:

A new study suggests toddlers who watch a lot of TV are at later risk of being victimized by classmates. (Photo/Visa Kopu)

A new study suggests toddlers who watch a lot of TV are at later risk of being victimized by classmates. (Photo/Visa Kopu)

For young children, the number of hours spent watching TV at the age of 29 months correlates to the likelihood he’ll be bullied in sixth grade, says Linda Pagani of the University of Montreal and its affiliated CHU Sainte-Justine children’s hospital.

“It is plausible that early lifestyle habits characterized by less effortful interactive experiences, such as early televiewing, can ultimately result in social skill deficits. More time spent watching television leaves less time for family interaction, which remains the primary vehicle for socialization,” Professor Pagani explained.

“Early television exposure is also linked with developmental deficits associated with brain functions that drive interpersonal problem solving, emotional regulation, socially competent peer play, and positive social contact. Finally, TV viewing may lead to poor eye-contact habits – a cornerstone of friendship and self-affirmation in social interaction.”

Pagani came to her conclusions by looking at 991 girls and 1006 boys growing up in Canada. The children’s TV watching habits were reported by their parents and their victimization in grade 6 was self-reported by the children themselves. Children were asked questions such as how often they had belongings taken away from them and how often they were verbally or physically abused.

“Every standard deviation unit increase of 53 minutes in daily televiewing at 29 months predicted an 11 percent standard deviation unit increase in bullying by sixth grade classmates,” Pagani said. “This figure takes into account other confounding factors that might influence the likelihood that the child would be bullied, such as his behavior and cognitive abilities and the characteristics of his family: their income, functioning, composition and the level of the mother’s education.”

Assuming that the programs watched are developmentally appropriate, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that daily screen time not extend beyond 1 to 2 hours per day for children age 2 and over.

“The AAP recommendations particularly relate to quantity of televiewing time. There are only 24 hours in a day, and for children, half should be spent meeting basic needs – eating, sleeping, hygiene – and the remainder spent on enriching activities and relationships,” Pagani said. “Because play represents an unstructured activity that does not require direct compliance, it allows children to be creative and provides parents with a chance to get acquainted with how their children perceive and interact with others on a socioemotional level.

“Having a chance to interact also gives a chance to correct or promote certain social behaviors. Excessive viewing time during the early years can create a time debt for pursuits involving social play. This study underscores the importance of better parental awareness, acknowledgement, and compliance with existing recommendations put forth by the American Academy of Pediatrics.”

 

 

Reader Comments 0

17 comments
Starik
Starik

Terrible. DFACS and the police are on the way.

RichardKPE
RichardKPE

So letting my 9-month-old watch South Park was bad?

An American Patriot
An American Patriot

Parents, for your childs well being, TAKE THAT DARN DIGITAL DEVICE AWAY FROM THEM, GET THEM FROM OUT IN FRONT OF THE TV and send their little butts out into the yard/woods/park, etc. to play with other kids.  This is how they develop physically and mentally.  Do not let them stay in the house all the time.

CSpinks
CSpinks

As The State makes a poor parent, the TV makes a poor baby-sitter.

Wascatlady
Wascatlady

Perhaps I missed it, but how did they get from correlation to causation?   That is, perhaps kids parked in front of electronic media at such an early age also have parents who have not raised them to deal with bullying, for example, they have learned passive behavior instead of being initiators?

popacorn
popacorn

@Starik @popacorn @Wascatlady

Pretty much just fertility. Just declare that you want to teach your kids. A HS diploma or GEd is all you need! Kids do take standardized tests, but I believe that no attendance paperwork is required. Lots of faith in the parents obviously. What could possibly go wrong?

redweather
redweather

I wonder how many of the children participating in this study engaged in verbal or physical bullying. 

CSpinks
CSpinks

TV has brought us an era of endless "entertainment." Right? 

No, not in the contemporary American classroom. There it's brought the quest for EDUTAINMENT. "Edutainment" is the blend of education and audio-visually-dominated entertainment so seemless as to defy separation and so easy as to maintain the effortless attention of our kids who have become habituated to fun at little cost. Teachers seek to provide their charges edutaining lessons and exercises in the knowledge that learning activities which do not entertain contemporary kids are apt to BORE THEM. ( And EVERYBODY  KNOWS  that bored kids don't learn and that nobody should be bored.)


But there's a problem.

No flesh-and-blood teacher, no matter how talented, can perform as an edutainer for six-hours per day, five-days per week, thirty-six weeks per year. Folks, that's a total of over a thousand edutainment hours per year.

At least, I came to appreciate that I couldn't. 

But who could?


How about Dave Letterman? He was pretty good at A-V-dominated entertainment. But CBS didn't even ask  Letterman to entertain his audience and to teach them hard academic content simultaneously. Dave faced his audience for one-hour per night, five days per week, forty-eight weeks per year. That's a total of less than two hundred fifty entertainment hours- less than 25% of what's asked of our classroom teachers. And he had scores of folks to help him with every show. And he wasn't called to account for what his audience learned about Math, US History, British Literature, Consumer Finance et al.


Are we asking too much of our flesh-and-blood teachers when we ask them to "edutain" our kids?



ScienceTeacher671
ScienceTeacher671

@CSpinks Plus "edutainment" teaches students nothing about the ideas of persistence and perseverance in pursuit of higher goals.

popacorn
popacorn

@CSpinks

If we rely on today's teacher bunch to be comedians and entertainers, we are really in deep trouble.  

DrMonicaHenson
DrMonicaHenson

@popacorn @CSpinks I see a profound difference between an accomplished, experienced teacher being able to engage students to participate in deep learning and "edutainment."

Looking4truth
Looking4truth

Hence, the pressure on teachers to engage (read:  entertain) students to get them to learn.  They are competing with media where everything is resolved within thirty minutes with laugh tracks and answers to problems are given instantly without any effort on the part of the viewer.  

flaneur_
flaneur_

Unfortunately, with the number of single-parent families showing no sign of decreasing—television will remain a too convenient way to distract children (rather than interact with them).

Wascatlady
Wascatlady

My observations, compared to student-reported electronic media time in past and present, suggest other ill effects.