Too Much TV for Tots Can Mean Trouble at Age 10, Study Says

Filed under: In The News, Research Reveals: Babies, Development: Toddlers & Preschoolers, Research Reveals: Toddlers & Preschoolers, Development: Big Kids, Research Reveals: Big Kids

Maybe it's time to unplug. Credit: Corbis

When you were a kid, did your parents tell you watching too much TV would rot your brain and ruin your eyes? Now, folks can add that spending lots of time in front of the tube will make you fat, get you bullied and cause you to do poorly in school.

Time magazine reports that a study published this week in the Archives of Pediatric Adolescent Medicine finds preschool age children who watched nearly nine hours of TV per week were "more likely by age 10 to be disengaged at school, get picked on by classmates, be overweight and eat an unhealthy diet."

Researchers from the University of Montreal and the University of Michigan, looking at data from 1,314 kids involved in The Quebec Longitudinal Study of Child Development, found that each additional hour of TV kids watched at age 29 months corresponded with a:

  • 7 percent decrease in classroom engagement
  • 6 percent decrease in math achievement
  • 13 percent decrease in weekend physical activity
  • 9 percent decrease in general physical activity
  • 10 percent increase in playing video games
  • 10 percent increase in victimization by classmates (peer rejection, being teased, assaulted or insulted)
  • 5 percent increase in Body Mass Index


"Early childhood is a critical period for brain development and formation of behavior," says lead researcher Dr. Linda Pagani of the University of Montreal, BBC reports. "High levels of TV consumption during this period can lead to future unhealthy habits. Common sense would suggest that television exposure replaces time that could be spent engaging in other developmentally enriching activities and tasks that foster cognitive, behavioral and motor development."

Pagani says she expected the impact of early TV viewing to disappear after age 7 1/2.

"Our findings make a compelling public health argument against excessive TV viewing in early childhood," she says.

Related: Is It OK For Kids Under 2 To Watch TV?

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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.