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Study: Kids with bedroom TVs more likely to have behavior, health issues as teens

19 March 2019

A study from the University of Montreal found that a TV located in a child’s bedroom deprives them of key developmental activities. The study also found that too much TV exposure could lead to social and emotional issues, bad eating habits and weight issues during the teen years.

The researchers studied 1,859 children from Quebec from spring 1997 to spring 1998. They tested the children over time to see if there is a link between having a TV in the bedroom at age four and having problems in the teen years.

Researchers conducted a health assessment on the children at age 13. The children were instructed to record their intake of healthy foods and complete a short version of the Children’s Depression Inventory. Parents reported how the children interact with others and if they are experiencing or participating in bullying. They also asked the children’s teachers to rate the child’s emotional stress.

The results of the study showed that children with a TV in their bedroom from age 4 onward had higher BMI, were more likely to have unhealthy eating habits, lower levels of sociability, higher levels of emotional distress, and more symptoms of depression, victimization and physical aggression issues than children without a TV in their bedroom.

The researchers say these results are regardless of individual family factors that may predispose the children to some of these issues. The early years of childhood are reportedly the most important to a child’s emotional development.

Study author Linda Pagani, a professor at UM's School of Psycho-Education, said, "Having private access to screen time in the bedroom during the preschool years does not bode well for long-term health. The children in our study were born at a time when television was the only screen in the bedroom. Today, given the portability of digital devices and the constant switching from one device to another, the guidelines of the American Academy of Pediatrics clearly have reason to encourage screen-free zones and screen-free locations at home, especially given the implications for the growth and development of children."

The study was published in Pediatric Research.



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