TV-Medical journal abstract

 

From: Deborah
Date: Fri Apr 16, 2004 5:10 pm
Subject: TV-Medical journal abstract

Early television exposure and subsequent attentional problems in children.

Christakis DA, Zimmerman FJ, DiGiuseppe DL, McCarty CA.

Department of Pediatrics, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington, USA. dachris@u.washington.edu

OBJECTIVE: Cross-sectional research has suggested that television viewing may be associated with decreased attention spans in children. However, longitudinal data of early television exposure and subsequent attentional problems have been lacking. The objective of this study was to test the hypothesis that early television exposure (at ages 1 and 3) is associated with attentional problems at age 7. METHODS: We used the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, a representative longitudinal data set. Our main outcome was the hyperactivity subscale of the Behavioral Problems Index determined on all participants at age 7. Children who were > or = 1.2 standard deviations above the mean were classified as having attentional problems. Our main predictor was hours of television watched daily at ages 1 and 3 years. RESULTS: Data were available for 1278 children at age 1 and 1345 children at age 3. Ten percent of children had attentional problems at age 7. In a logistic regression model, hours of television viewed per day at both ages 1 and 3 was associated with attentional problems at age 7 (1.09 [1.03-1.15] and 1.09 [1.02- 1.16]), respectively. CONCLUSIONS: Early television exposure is associated with attentional problems at age 7. Efforts to limit television viewing in early childhood may be warranted, and additional research is needed.

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From: Deborah
Date: Fri Apr 16, 2004 5:26 pm
Subject: TV-Medical journal abstract

Here is another one. I turned up over 130 articles on the topic, with various points of view. Many are concerned with obesity, others with violent behavior, some with bad effects on school work and on and on. I hadn't realized that there were so many doctors worried about children and TV. Of course, the idea that children might be better off with zero TV is not, generally, in the discussion.

Deborah

(If anyone is interested I can copy a few more, but I don't want to be a pest.)

10: Indian J Pediatr. 1994 Mar-Apr;61(2):153-9. Related Articles, Links

Impact of television on children.

Gupta RK, Saini DP, Acharya U, Miglani N.

Department of Pediatric Medicine, Sir Padampat Mother and Child Health Institute, SMS Medical College, Jaipur.

Television viewing has a great impact on various aspects of child's life. This study was carried out at Sir Padampat Mother & Child Health Institute, Jaipur (Rajasthan). The aim was to study the effects of television viewing on a child's eating habits, general physical health, physical activities, interest in study and school performance. Only 250 children of 3-10 years age groups were studied for a period of nine months (January 1992 to September 1992). Average duration of television exposure to an individual child was 18.5 hours per week in the study. Significant changes were observed in a childs' eating habits, weight, physical activity, sleep pattern, interest in study and general physical health. Increase in weight was observed in 19.6% children suggesting that the television viewing may predispose to childhood obesity. In 30.4% cases decrease in physical activity was found, 18.4% children showed decreased interest in study, while 10% children showed decrease in school performance, and sleep pattern was disturbed in 24% children. Medical problems were found in 11.6% children. Significantly two children had precipitation of fits on television viewing.

MeSH Terms:
Child
Child, Preschool
Female
Food Habits*
Human
Male
Television*

PMID: 7927612 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

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From: dottie zold
Date: Fri Apr 16, 2004 5:33 pm
Subject: Re: TV-Medical journal abstract

Hi Ladies,

An article in last weeks LA Times noted that children watching television more than x amount of hours (relatively small that I can recall) were linked to ADD disorders.

I get that Steiner students put a name to this boogy man as in Ahriman but basically its all coming out in the wash. It's just that they see a spiritual connection to earthly things. Dr. Steiner says everything physical has a spiritual understanding behind it. And it can be seen as well in computer land.

Dottie

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From: winters_diana
Date: Sun Apr 18, 2004 4:38 am
Subject: Re: TV-Medical journal abstract

Deborah:

I turned up over 130 articles on the topic, with various points of view. Many are concerned with obesity, others with violent behavior, some with bad effects on school work and on and on. I hadn't realized that there were so many doctors worried about children and TV. Of course, the idea that children might be better off with zero TV is not, generally, in the discussion.

Exactly. While they can certainly be said to share the Waldorf concern over media effects, they don't, generally, support the total ban that Waldorf prescribes.

Most of them conclude with something like: "Efforts to limit television viewing in early childhood may be warranted" as the previous one did.

Also, note that the second study you cited is about children who watch EIGHTEEN (18) HOURS per WEEK on average. Hm. I should delete all the caps and emphasis, but that's really stunning. All these horrific difficulties are associated with children watching utterly outrageous amounts of TV. There's little reason to extrapolate this sky-is-falling stuff to children whose viewing patterns are moderate and sensible, say, a couple of hours a week, or a movie on Saturday nights, or maybe Saturday morning cartoons.

Diana

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From: Deborah
Date: Sun Apr 18, 2004 7:37 am
Subject: : Re: TV-Medical journal abstract

Dear Diana,

Thanks for your response. I grew up in a non-TV owning/watching family. We were not anthroposophists. We had a TV for perhaps a year when I was roughly 5 years old. My father, observing his children watching TV decided that it was bad for us (and we were certainly not watching 18 hours a week, perhaps 3 or 4 hours a week) and tossed it.

So I grew up in the 1950s in the U.S. as one of the only children in every neighborhood we lived in (and we moved a lot) who did not have a TV in the house.

My observations: my family of 5 children
1)read a lot more
2)played creatively
3)were active and engaged: I tried out handweaving, my brother
disected frogs and snakes, we made up games and so on and on
4)knew how to make up stories

So, when I had a child I took it for granted that we wouldn't have a TV in the house. And my daughter has, quite cheerfully, continued the tradition (fortunately her husband despises TV). My granddaughter at 4 has never seen a video and has never watched TV for more than a minute or two in a public setting. She is thriving, has a rich imagination, plays creatively and exhausts her grandmother.

Waldorf has been nice, in that it has supported my position, but it certainly didn't cause it.

Now, let's take another look at the research. None of those medical articles seem to have data that demonstrates, conclusively, what a "safe" dose of TV might be. Some seem to indicate that TV is more damaging to some children than others. Not all children who watch TV become obese or violent or have attention disorders. But, imagining myself as a parent with a new baby, why should I assume that my child will one of the children who doesn't have a problem? Why should I assume that I can come up with a "safe" dose of TV for my child? If the doctors don't actually know what constitutes a safe dose, what grounds do I have for deciding that one cartoon a week is okay, but two might be dangerous? I think the moderate positions taken by the authors of these articles arise from two causes. First they don't want to take "extreme" positions because researchers who take extreme positions tend to be attacked and second, the current stance is that risk has to be 100% proven before you stop a practice. In my opinion, this is ass-backwards. When it comes to children why not be cautious? How many children have to be majorly messed up before somebody says: is TV watching really a positive influence on children? Perhaps they would be better off without it? (and yes, I know you'll flip this statement around and use it for an attack on waldorf. that's okay, go ahead.)

When my daughter's waldorf teacher decided to try to reduce TV watching among the children in her class the book she recommended was by Marie Winn: The Plug-in Drug.

Cheers,
Deborah

Deborah:

I turned up over 130 articles on the topic, with various points of view. Many are concerned with obesity, others with violent behavior, some with bad effects on school work and on and on. I hadn't realized that there were so many doctors worried about children and TV. Of course, the idea that children might be better off with zero TV is not, generally, in the discussion.

Exactly. While they can certainly be said to share the Waldorf concern over media effects, they don't, generally, support the total ban that Waldorf prescribes.

Most of them conclude with something like: "Efforts to limit television viewing in early childhood may be warranted" as the previous one did.

Also, note that the second study you cited is about children who watch EIGHTEEN (18) HOURS per WEEK on average. Hm. I should delete all the caps and emphasis, but that's really stunning. All these horrific difficulties are associated with children watching utterly outrageous amounts of TV. There's little reason to extrapolate this sky-is-falling stuff to children whose viewing patterns are moderate and sensible, say, a couple of hours a week, or a movie on Saturday nights, or maybe Saturday morning cartoons.

Diana

...................................................................................................................................

From: winters_diana
Date: Sun Apr 18, 2004 7:44 pm
Subject: : Re: TV-Medical journal abstract

Deborah:

I grew up in the 1950s in the U.S. as one of the only children in every neighborhood we lived in (and we moved a lot) who did not have a TV in the house.

I also grew up without TV, in the 1960s and 70s. I never knew what was going on when other kids' conversation started with, "So, did you see . . . last night?"

Our family (I mean, my family today) also was very down on television before we ever heard of Waldorf, and we still restrict it severely post-Waldorf. We watch an hour or two a week (not counting certain sports seasons, I admit . . . there are some sports my husband just can't turn off – my son is not too interested, and although he may be in the room, he generally will politely ask the score occasionally, or say absently, "Which team are we for, Dad?" while doing other things). We do rent movies. This winter (which was a long, nasty one) this became a once-a-week habit.

With us, it's really more that we can't stand TV, more than a childrearing principle. When we do watch, we often find the commercials and ads for other shows so unbelievably offensive and idiotic we all seem to agree almost in unison that we should just turn this off.

I have a hard time understanding, frankly, why some families find it so difficult to turn it off. If it were interesting, that would be one thing, but it so, so much garbage most of the time. I have a practically physical reaction to the garbage. It seems to have gotten way worse in the past couple of years, thanks to all these "reality" shows, some of which strike me as really, really sick. Even the commercials in prime time are largely inappropriate for children. It is probably not as bad in Europe. American TV is disgusting.

Waldorf has been nice, in that it has supported my position, but it certainly didn't cause it.

Ditto for us. As I said previously, I appreciated the support, and it was one of the things I liked about Waldorf.

Then Deborah, you start talking about the research and why the medical articles don't flat-out say "No TV."

imagining myself as a parent with a new baby, why should I assume that my child will one of the children who doesn't have a problem?

I don't see why you should assume that either. If it worries you, turn it off, or ditch the set.

Why should I assume that I can come up with a "safe" dose of TV for my child? If the doctors don't actually know what constitutes a safe dose, what grounds do I have for deciding that one cartoon a week is okay, but two might be dangerous?

None, I suppose, other than common sense. Common sense is underrated! Sorry – I think it's fairly clear that a few cartoons a week are not likely to damage a child.

I think the moderate positions taken by the authors of these articles arise from two causes. First they don't want to take "extreme" positions because researchers who take extreme positions tend to be attacked

May I translate this into a less paranoid statement? It's not really about being "attacked." Scientific researchers try not to state things for which they do not have evidence. The goal is to report exactly what the findings are, and draw conclusions cautiously, without over- or understating the case that can be supported by the evidence. Often they will suggest the evidence points in a certain direction – such as restricting TV – but they are especially cautious not to quantify things that they don't have solid numbers on, such as hours per day or per week of Tv that are harmful. The less that is known, the less that is said, and that is as it should be IMO. (You've got to admit Bradford would have to stop posting if he followed this advice) :)

Obviously, families are free to conclude what will be best for their family based on this evidence.

and second, the current stance is that risk has to be 100% proven before you stop a practice.

Whose "current stance"? Who says the risk has to be 100% proven before you stop a practice? One hears the opposite argument just as often – that we are becoming ever more risk-averse, and ever more inclined to see victims everywhere; eventually someone will sue a TV network for causing their child's ADHD.

Are you suggesting that you, personally, can't stop a practice until it is proven 100% bad? Why can't you? I don't care if some researcher tells me a practice is not 100% proven to be bad, if I think it may be harmful to my family, I'll stop it without waiting for researchers' permission, thanks very much. Do you want a researcher, a government, or a school, to tell you how much TV you should watch? I don't.

How many children have to be majorly messed up before somebody says: is TV watching really a positive influence on children? Perhaps they would be better off without it? (and yes, I know you'll flip this statement around and use it for an attack on waldorf. that's okay, go ahead.)

So did I do what you feared, "flip around" your statements and "attack Waldorf"? I just really don't think the paranoid response is helpful.

Diana

...................................................................................................................................

From: Deborah
Date: Mon Apr 19, 2004 7:49 am
Subject: : Re: TV-Medical journal abstract

Dear Diana,

I've inserted a few remarks, prefaced by NEW, so you can find them. I think it is rather amusing to discover that we are largely in agreement and coming from the same place. Sort of ruins the fun of an argument, doesn't it?

Deborah

Deborah:

I grew up in the 1950s in the U.S. as one of the only children in every neighborhood we lived in (and we moved a lot) who did not have a TV in the house.

I also grew up without TV, in the 1960s and 70s. I never knew what was going on when other kids' conversation started with, "So, did you see . . . last night?"

Our family (I mean, my family today) also was very down on television before we ever heard of Waldorf, and we still restrict it severely post-Waldorf. We watch an hour or two a week (not counting certain sports seasons, I admit . . . there are some sports my husband just can't turn off – my son is not too interested, and although he may be in the room, he generally will politely ask the score occasionally, or say absently, "Which team are we for, Dad?" while doing other things). We do rent movies. This winter (which was a long, nasty one) this became a once-a-week habit.

With us, it's really more that we can't stand TV, more than a childrearing principle. When we do watch, we often find the commercials and ads for other shows so unbelievably offensive and idiotic we all seem to agree almost in unison that we should just turn this off.

I have a hard time understanding, frankly, why some families find it so difficult to turn it off. If it were interesting, that would be one thing, but it so, so much garbage most of the time. I have a practically physical reaction to the garbage. It seems to have gotten way worse in the past couple of years, thanks to all these "reality" shows, some of which strike me as really, really sick. Even the commercials in prime time are largely inappropriate for children. It is probably not as bad in Europe. American TV is disgusting.

NEW
Deborah:

I too find it hard to understand why families find it difficult to turn off. A few years ago some pediatricians group came out against TV for kids under two. Later someone pointed me to an e-mail poll on the topic (I think on Baby Center). Most of the moms were arguing vehemently in favor of TV, saying that they couldn't manage without it. The few parents who spoke up against the negative effects of TV on babies were attacked, strongly.

Deborah:

Waldorf has been nice, in that it has supported my position, but it certainly didn't cause it.

Ditto for us. As I said previously, I appreciated the support, and it was one of the things I liked about Waldorf.

Then Deborah, you start talking about the research and why the medical articles don't flat-out say "No TV."

Deborah:

imagining myself as a parent with a new baby, why should I assume that my child will one of the children who doesn't have a problem?

Diana:

I don't see why you should assume that either. If it worries you, turn it off, or ditch the set.

Deborah:

Why should I assume that I can come up with a "safe" dose of TV for my child? If the doctors don't actually know what constitutes a safe dose, what grounds do I have for deciding that one cartoon a week is okay, but two might be dangerous?

Diana:

None, I suppose, other than common sense. Common sense is underrated! Sorry – I think it's fairly clear that a few cartoons a week are not likely to damage a child.

Deborah:

I think the moderate positions taken by the authors of these articles arise from two causes. First they don't want to take "extreme" positions because researchers who take extreme positions tend to be attacked

Diana:

May I translate this into a less paranoid statement? It's not really about being "attacked." Scientific researchers try not to state things for which they do not have evidence. The goal is to report exactly what the findings are, and draw conclusions cautiously, without over- or understating the case that can be supported by the evidence. Often they will suggest the evidence points in a certain direction – such as restricting TV – but they are especially cautious not to quantify things that they don't have solid numbers on, such as hours per day or per week of Tv that are harmful. The less that is known, the less that is said, and that is as it should be IMO. (You've got to admit Bradford would have to stop posting if he followed this advice) :)

Obviously, families are free to conclude what will be best for their family based on this evidence.

NEW
Deborah:

The difficulty here is that TV is being treated like a "normal" part of life. It is an add-on. People have gotten along for thousands of years without electronic media. TV was introduced to children and to family life with no safety testing. Just the assumption that it was okay and wouldn't have significant harmful effects. So, when researchers find that something does have harmful effects after all...it isn't really extreme to say so clearly and loudly. Except that they would, indeed be attacked. To give a related example.

Sweden recently instituted a ban of advertising directed at children. This has not been happily welcomed by media companies, advertising agencies and all the other interested parties. They started a campaign in other European countries to make sure that this ban doesn't spread. I'm sure that one of their arguments is that there is no scientific proof that advertising directed at children is harmful.

Deborah:

and second, the current stance is that risk has to be 100% proven before you stop a practice.

Whose "current stance"? Who says the risk has to be 100% proven before you stop a practice? One hears the opposite argument just as often – that we are becoming ever more risk-averse, and ever more inclined to see victims everywhere; eventually someone will sue a TV network for causing their child's ADHD.

Are you suggesting that you, personally, can't stop a practice until it is proven 100% bad? Why can't you? I don't care if some researcher tells me a practice is not 100% proven to be bad, if I think it may be harmful to my family, I'll stop it without waiting for researchers' permission, thanks very much. Do you want a researcher, a government, or a school, to tell you how much TV you should watch? I don't.

NEW
Deborah:

No, I'm talking more about stuff like GMO's. The argument is between people who feel as though there should be much more proof of safety coming from the business side and the opposite argument that danger needs to be proved before they have to stop growing and selling GMO's.

You were the one who started by pointing out that the medical research I quoted didn't support the waldorf position on TV. No, I don't wait for the medical research to catch up...they are way slow.

How many children have to be majorly messed up before somebody says: is TV watching really a positive influence on children? Perhaps they would be better off without it? (and yes, I know you'll flip this statement around and use it for an attack on waldorf. that's okay, go ahead.)

So did I do what you feared, "flip around" your statements and "attack Waldorf"? I just really don't think the paranoid response is helpful.

NEW
Deborah:

Well, I'll work on being less paranoid.

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