Pull the plug—and
A new study
on TV viewing should give parents new reasons to pull the plug on
adolescent couch potatoes.
followed a random sample of more than 700 adolescents for 17 years.
Researchers found that adolescents who watched one to three hours of
television daily were nearly four times more likely to commit violent and
aggressive acts later in life.
was reported in the journal "Science" last week. The lead author
of the study was Jeffrey Johnson, assistant clinical professor of
psychology in Columbia University’s Psychiatry Department.
conducted interviews with kids, beginning at age 14, and their families
about TV habits, violence and aggression. They followed up with interviews
at averages ages of 16, 22 and 30.
In the year
2000, researchers examined state and FBI records to find out if any of the
subjects, all of whom had reached the average age of 30, had been arrested
or charged with a crime. They also talked to the subjects and their
researchers found that just 5.7 percent of those who had reported watching
less than one hour of TV a day as adolescents had committed aggressive
acts against others.
who reported watching more, 22.5 percent of those who watched one to three
hours a day, and 28.8 percent of those who watched more than three hours a
day had committed such acts.
used statistical techniques to rule out other potential causes of violence
including neglect, poverty and living in a violent neighborhood.
didn’t examine what kinds of TV shows were watched, but it’s probably
just as well. Anyone who has ever tried to control what teenagers watch
when they can surf hundreds of channels is next to impossible. Anyone who
has surfed those same channels knows that they are saturated with violent
communities should take the study’s findings seriously. TV should not be
allowed to set the standards of acceptable social behavior. The risks are
becoming all too clear.
like ours with large numbers of working parents need to provide a wide
range of healthy after-school activities for kids. Parents need to plan
activities with their teenagers, particularly in the school-free months
that will arrive soon.
parents need to pull the plug—and mean it.