A new research has drawn a link between anti-social and criminal behaviour by children and adolescents with the amount of television that they watch.
The research says children and adolescents who watch a lot of television are more likely to exhibit antisocial and criminal behavior when they become adults.
In the study by University of Otago, New Zealand, scientists tracked about 1,000 children born in the New Zealand city of Dunedin in 1972-73. Every two years between the ages of 5 and 15, they were asked how much television they watched. Those who watched more television were found to be more likely to have a criminal conviction and were also more likely to have antisocial personality traits in adulthood.
“While we’re not saying that television causes all antisocial behavior, our findings do suggest that reducing TV viewing could go some way towards reducing rates of antisocial behavior in society,” said study co-author Bob Hancox.
The findings are published online in the journal Pediatrics.
Hancox and colleagues found that the risk of having a criminal conviction by early adulthood increased by about 30 percent with every hour that children spent watching TV on an average weeknight.
The study also found that watching more television in childhood was associated, in adulthood, with aggressive personality traits, an increased tendency to experience negative emotions, and an increased risk of antisocial personality disorder, which is characterized by persistent patterns of aggressive and antisocial behavior.
The researchers said the relationship between TV viewing and antisocial behavior was not explained by socio-economic status, aggressive or antisocial behavior in early childhood, or parenting factors.
It’s not that children who were already antisocial watched more television, said study co-author Lindsay Robertson. “Rather, children who watched a lot of television were likely to go on to manifest antisocial behavior and personality traits.”
Other studies have suggested a link between television viewing and antisocial behavior, though very few have demonstrated a cause-and-effect sequence. The researchers said this is the first “real-life” study that has asked about TV viewing throughout childhood, and has looked at a range of antisocial outcomes in adulthood.
As an observational study, it cannot prove that watching too much television caused the antisocial outcomes, they added, but the findings are consistent with most of the research and provides further evidence that excessive television can have long-term consequences for behavior. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children should watch no more than 1 to 2 hours of quality television programming each day.
.Courtesy of the University of Otago
and World Science staff