Brief Report: Television Viewing and Risk for Attention Problems in Preschool Children

Department of Psychology, University of Windsor, Windsor, Ontario, Canada
Journal of Pediatric Psychology (Impact Factor: 2.91). 06/2007; 32(4):448-52. DOI: 10.1093/jpepsy/jsl035
Source: PubMed


This study examined whether high levels of television viewing are associated with attention problems and hyperactivity in preschool children.
Parent and teacher ratings of inattention, hyperactivity and impulsivity, objectively measured activity level, and parental estimation of early television exposure were collected for a sample of preschool children. Separate linear regression analyses were conducted with parent and teacher behavioral ratings and objectively assessed activity level as outcome variables.
Results indicated that after controlling for demographic factors (i.e., age, sex, and SES), television exposure accounted for a significant proportion of the variance in teacher ratings of inattentive/hyperactive behaviors, as well as objectively measured activity level.
These findings partially replicate those from a recent, highly publicized study indicating a correlation between television exposure and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)-associated behaviors. However, it remains unclear as to whether elevated levels of television viewing are the cause or result of ADHD symptoms.

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    • "Finally, although this study demonstrates that children's hyperactive behavior affect the time they spend watching television from year-to-year, due to data limitations, this study could not examine whether increases in television time, in turn, caused and/or reinforced children's hyperactivity after kindergarten. It is worth noting, however, that the extant literature has consistently shown that greater television time is associated with less optimal behavior (Christakis et al., 2004;Miller et al., 2007;Thakkar et al., 2006;Zimmerman & Christakis, 2007). Nonetheless, future studies should also consider whether these associations between children's hyperactivity and television viewing reinforce children's behavior problems over time. "
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    ABSTRACT: Using data from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study-Birth Cohort (ECLS-B; n = 6,250), this study examined whether children who display difficult behaviors early in life watch more television from year-to-year. Results revealed that 4-year-old children’s hyperactive, but not aggressive, behavior was associated with an increase in television watching over the ensuing year. These potential child effects, however, were embedded in both proximate and distal ecologies. That is, the association between children’s hyperactivity and increases in their television exposure over time was strongest among those in the low-end of the socioeconomic distribution and those whose parents displayed less optimal mental health. It was also stronger among girls. These results underscore the importance of considering child effects in future research and how intra-familial dynamics vary across different types of family contexts.
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    • "The authors' study was based on a former study that also produced similar results and they concluded that, taken together, a relationship between TV viewing and behavioural difficulties similar to that of ADHD does exist. However, the study was unable to infer causation; it remained unclear whether increased levels of TV viewing caused inattentive and hyperactive behaviour or whether hyperactive/inattentive children watch more TV than other children (e.g. because they are more difficult to parent and TV is used as a method to occupy them;Miller et al., 2007). There was also a positive correlation between the number of minutes a night-time waking lasts and the Anxious-Fearful factor. "
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    • "Regarding cognitive factors, these studies suggest that cultural differences between students' cognitive structures and game's characters and consequently the inability of students to adapt their cognitive structures to the games' content and characters leads to their lack of understanding of the game's concept. In this regard, some studies (Kronenberger et al., 2005; Miller et al., 2007), discuss the negative effects of exposure to the media, especially TV, on cognitive performance especially in children and adolescents. Kronenberger et al. (2005), for example, proposes that exposure to the media and computer games lead to violence and cognitive disorders. "
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