A new study shows that kids who watch over three hours of TV a day are slightly more likely to display behavioral problems and antisocial behaviors like stealing and fighting than kids who watch less TV. The risk of these behaviors, however, is so small that it's probably not worth cutting back on your kid's time in front of the television and forcing yourself to actually interact with them.
Using a representative sample of more than 11,000 kids, researchers in the UK had mothers fill out a validated Strengths and Difficulties (SDQ) questionnaire with questions about their children's behavior at 5 years old and then again two years later when the children were seven. The questions particularly probed at conduct problems, difficulty making friends, attention span, empathy and emotional problems. Moms were then asked about the amount of time that their children spent watching TV and playing videogames.
The researchers found that about 66.6% of the kids at 5 years old watched between 1 and 3 hours of television a day, 15% watched more than 3 hours a day and only 2% did not watch TV at all. The study's authors then adjusted the findings for factors — like family dynamics — that would influence the results and found, according to Medical News Today, that "watching TV for 3 or more hours each day was significantly linked to a very a small increased chance of antisocial behavior (conduct problems) between the ages of five and seven."
From the study (which was published in Archives of Disease in Childhood):
The links between heavy screen time and mental health may be indirect, rather than direct, such as increased sedentary behavior, sleeping difficulties, and impaired language development, and that the child's own temperament may predict screen time habits...[The study] suggests that a cautionary approach to the heavy use of screen entertainment in young children is justifiable in terms of potential effects on wellbeing, particularly conduct problems, in addition to effects on physical health and academic progress shown elsewhere.
I don't know. Granted that my situation is not everyone's situation, but I watched a lot of TV as a kid and the only behavioral problems that it's given me is that I probably quote Perfect Strangers too much. So come on, researchers! Dun't be ridi-ka-louse!
TV Viewing Linked To Antisocial Behaviors In 5-Year Olds [Medical News Today]