A new study has revealed that toddlers who chill in front of TV a lot may be victimized more by their peers as adolescents. For young children, the number of hours spent watching TV at the age of 29 months correlates to the likelihood he’ll be bullied in sixth grade, says Linda Pagani of the University of Montreal and its affiliated CHU Sainte-Justine children’s hospital.
Pagani explained that it is plausible that early lifestyle habits characterized by less effortful interactive experiences, such as early televiewing, can ultimately result in social skill deficits, adding that more time spent watching television leaves less time for family interaction, which remains the primary vehicle for socialization.
Pagani noted that early television exposure is also linked with developmental deficits associated with brain functions that drive interpersonal problem solving, emotional regulation, socially competent peer play, and positive social contact. Finally, TV viewing may lead to poor eye-contact habits – a cornerstone of friendship and self-affirmation in social interaction.
Every standard deviation unit increase of 53 minutes in daily televiewing at 29 months predicted an 11percent standard deviation unit increase in bullying by sixth grade classmates, Pagani noted, adding that this figure takes into account other confounding factors that might influence the likelihood that the child would be bullied, such as his behaviour and cognitive abilities and the characteristics of his family: their income, functioning, composition and the level of the mother’s education.
Assuming that the programs watched are developmentally appropriate, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that daily screen time not extend beyond 1 to 2 hours per day for children age 2 and over.
This study underscores the importance of better parental awareness, acknowledgement, and compliance with existing recommendations put forth by the American Academy of Pediatrics.
The study appears in Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics.