Entries in Television (8)


Educational TV Can Improve Kids’ Behavior, Study Finds

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Young adults who spent more time in front of a TV during their childhood are significantly more likely to be arrested and exhibit aggressive behavior, a new study found.

Researchers followed more than 1,000 young people in New Zealand from birth to age 26 and monitored the amount of television they watched during the ages of 5 and 15. In addition to monitoring television habits, the researchers also monitored criminal convictions, diagnoses of antisocial personality disorder, and personality traits of the individuals.

“This is one of the largest and best studies to date to look at long term outcomes from exposure to television,” said Dr. Christakis, director of Child Health, Behavior and Development at Seattle Children’s Research Institute, who was not involved with the study.

The more television children watched, the more likely they were to have a criminal conviction, a diagnosis of antisocial personality disorder and more aggressive personality traits, the study found. The trend was seen equally in both males and females, and the researchers controlled for sex, IQ, socioeconomic status, previous antisocial behavior, and even parental control.

So does this mean your TV is turning your child into a convict? Not necessarily, caution some pediatricians.

“From this study there does seem to be an association between excessive screen time and criminality,” said Dr. Ari Brown, an Austin, Texas-based pediatrician and author of “Baby 411.” “However, [the study] cannot show evidence that the number of hours watched causes criminality. Correlation, yes. Causation, no.”

While this study highlights the recommendation of the American Academy of Pediatrics that children should watch no more than one to two hours of television each day, the study did not look at what these children were watching, a weakness of the study many point out.

“It’s hard to imagine seeing the same results if they had just watched PBS documentaries,” said Christakis. “More emphasis needs to be placed on quality, not quantity.”

Christakis is the lead author of a study published in the same journal that reveals that changing what your children watch may actually improve their behavior.

“All television is educational, but the real question is: What is it teaching?” he said.

He and his team of researchers studied 820 families with children aged 3 to 5. Half of the families were placed in the intervention group, and replaced aggressive and violent television with educational and pro-social television. The other half of the families in the control group did not change the programming their children watched. No changes were made in the amount of television the children viewed, however, parents were encouraged to watch television with their children in the intervention group. Six months later children in the intervention group demonstrated significantly less aggression and noted to be more social than the children in the control group.

As a result of the study, experts suggest watching educational television with children can actually improve their behavior.

“Children imitate what they see on screen. They imitate bad behavior, but also good behavior. Parents should take advantage of this,” said Christakis.

“It’s not just about turning off the TV, but changing the channel.”

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Study Finds Young Children Watch a Shocking Amount of TV

Comstock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- How many hours of television are your children watching?  Probably more than you think.  Pediatricians have long been concerned about television exposure in childhood, as it can affect cognitive development and social abilities in children.  

Researchers in a new study published by the Journal of Medicine say they were "just shocked" at how often children were exposed to television. They said that on average, children between the ages of 8 months to 8 years are exposed to nearly four hours of background television daily.  Children from African-American families and the poorest families in the study group were exposed to even more at an average of 5.5 and 6 hours daily, respectively.  

The TV is often on in the background while parents cook or clean, eat or sleep, and when it’s on, pediatricians say kids pay less attention to everything else. The authors recommend turning off the TV at meal and play times, as well as when no one is watching.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


'Sextember': TV Viewers See Diversity Between the Sheets

George Doyle/Stockbyte/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Human sexuality is as varied as the features on our faces.

Annie purportedly has the largest breasts in the world -- size 102ZZZ. Cristian was born with a condition called gynecomastia, which is an overgrowth of breast tissue, causing his chest to grow to a B-cup breast size.

This month, Discovery Fit & Health airs Sextember, highlighting its most intriguing stories about those with odd physical characteristics and erotic yearnings.

The series, which airs Sunday at 9 ET, takes a look at sex, love and intimacy.

"I think the greatest thing about Sextember is that it allows a dialogue," said Ty Tashiro, a psychologist and researcher in sexual health from the University of Maryland and a consultant for Discovery. "It lets us know there is diversity in the way we are built and the things we want and how we function."

Trent, in the episode, "The Inseminator," has been running a one-man sperm bank out of his living room for the past six years. In high school, he took a vow of celibacy in order to donate his body to scientific pursuits.

So today, he helps childless couples get pregnant, protecting his sperm so it is optimal for fertilization. Trent is still a virgin, but with 15 children.

Josh and Jasmine flip homes for a living. But what happens when they show their own house, which is filled with sex furniture?

Other episodes include: "Dominatrix in Training," when Megan decides to reveal her kinky side; and actress Maggie Gyllenhaal hosts "Why Is Sex Fun."

Sleep orgasms and sleep sex are also slated for Sextember.

"People have different ways of gratifying themselves and enriching their lives," Tashiro said. "Having tolerance for diversity is a good thing."

The recent popularity of the erotic book, Fifty Shades of Grey, illustrates a more open attitude toward what was once considered kinky sex.

Those who actually engage in sado-masochistic behavior are a "substantial minority," according to Tashiro, who has been a consultant on the Sextember series.

"In the U.S., we tend to culturally talk less openly about sexual activity, especially when it falls outside the normal range of sexual behavior," he said.

Those who are different, "tend to keep it to themselves," he said. But when researchers ask anonymously, "there really is a great range."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Children's Self-Esteem Decreases When Watching More TV, White Boys Excluded

Photodisc/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Children’s self-esteem generally goes down as TV watching goes up. Still, white boys are the exception, according to a new study published in the journal Communications Research.

Researchers from Indiana University surveyed close to 400 boys and girls between the ages of 7 and 12, of whom 58 percent were black, 48 percent white, to see if there was a correlation between time spent in front of the TV and children’s self-esteem. They tallied the amount of TV watched and had the participants complete an 11-item questionnaire intended to measure overall feelings of self-worth.

The existing research on the impact of TV on children’s health has focused on body image and eating disorders, Nicole Martins, an assistant professor of telecommunications at Indiana University and co-author of the study, told ABC News. Given that children spend more than seven hours a day with some sort of media (computers, TV, video games), examining the influence of media on how they feel about themselves seemed long overdue, she said.

The study authors said that while white male TV characters tend to hold positions of power in prestigious occupations, have a lot of education and beautiful wives, the TV roles of girls and women tend to be less positive and more one-dimensional. Female characters are often sexualized, and success is often measured according to how they look.

Black men and boys are often criminalized on TV, the researchers said, which can affect their feelings of self-worth.

According to the study, self-esteem has significant behavioral and emotional ramifications, and it is often correlated with motivation, persistence and academic achievement, particularly among children.

But Alan Kazdin, a professor of psychology and child psychiatry at Yale University, said self-esteem had not been found to  relate causally to anything at all. While it can be one measure of clinical depression, that does not mean it characterizes or causes depression.

“As citizens, we think of self-esteem as very important,” said Kazdin. “But I deal with aggressive and violent children who have self-esteem that can be much higher than the average child. Yes, every parent wants their child to feel good about themselves, but high self-esteem is not an elixir to get you through life. It is not the protective factor we’d like it to be.”

Building confidence in children, and helping them gain skills and competencies that contribute to a better life, such as learning instruments, playing sports or sticking with a difficult school lesson, will help do that. If children do not have friends, setting up “light play dates” will help build socialization skills, a “really important aspect of life,” Kazdin said.

Martins suggested that parents limit TV time, and as Kazdin suggested, help their kids gain skills that will improve their lives.

“Too much time in front of the screen may displace real-life experiences, such as playing a musical instrument, playing ball in the backyard, that could build a child’s feeling of self-worth,” said Martins. “Another option would be to actively mediate children’s media use so that they can more easily understand fantasy from reality.

“Simple distinctions and conversations like this help mitigate the impact such an image might have on self-esteem and comparisons to media characters,” she said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Babies Want Bad Guys Punished, Study Finds

Hemera/Thinkstock(VANCOUVER, British Columbia) -- Have you ever cheered when a bad guy gets what he deserves in a movie’s closing scene? Or watched a child tattle on a classmate who broke the rules?

Scientists believe the urge to punish bad guys and reward good ones may be hardwired into the human psyche, and a new study suggests that even infants prefer to see punishment for an unkind act.

To test this urge for retribution, researchers put on different puppet shows for 100 babies in three age groups: 5 months old, 8 months old and 19 months and older.

The babies watched puppets behave positively or negatively toward one another -- one elephant helped a duck open a box, while another elephant slammed the lid shut. Next, the children saw the “good” or “bad” puppets get rewarded or punished -- a toy moose either gave a toy to the elephants or took the toy away.

When the babies were prompted to choose their favorite puppets, the researchers reported that most of the 8-month-olds preferred the puppets that had punished the “bad” puppets, while the majority of the 5-month-olds preferred the moose that treated everyone kindly, even the “bad” elephants. The children 19 months and older acted similarly to the 8-month-olds, physically taking treats away from puppets who had mistreated others.

The study was published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Study author Kiley Hamlin, a psychologist from the University of British Columbia, said the results offered some clues about exactly when humans develop a sense of justice, a factor that evolutionary psychologists say is critical to the function of society.

“Somehow between age 5 and 8 months, the babies get this much more nuanced perception, the ability to interpret circumstances,” Hamlin said. “It’s hard to argue that parents are teaching their children to punish at 8 months. It’s a very complex idea. If they are learning it, they’re doing it on their own, suggesting that there is some kind of system for learning it.”

Rahil Briggs, a child psychologist and director of the Healthy Steps program at Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx, N.Y., said scientists knew very little about what happened in a baby’s brain in the earliest months of life. But she said that other complicated concepts started to become apparent to infants, such as a sense of self and the characteristics and motivations of others, at around 6 months old.

“There’s all sorts of things that we think start to emerge around that age that all point to the fact that babies become more aware of distinctions,” Briggs said. “I think as we continue to do this research that people are going to continue to be surprised and impressed by how sophisticated babies really are.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Too Much TV Could Be Bad for Your Health

George Doyle/Stockbyte(COPENHAGEN, Denmark) -- Watching too much television may not only lead to morphing into a couch potato, but it may also have some negative effects on a person’s health, according to a study by the University of Southern Denmark.

The findings of the study, which were published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, revealed that by reanalyzing data from eight already-published studies, researchers found that two hours of daily television watching were associated with an estimated 176 more cases of type 2 diabetes, 38 more cases of fatal cardiovascular disease, and 104 additional deaths from any cause per 100,000 people each year.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Nine-Year-Old Boy Saves Baby Sister with CPR

Ableimages/Stockbyte/Thinkstock(MESA, Ariz.) -- A nine-year-old boy who saved his baby sister's life after she fell into a swimming pool said he learned CPR from watching television.

Tristin Saghin was visiting his grandmother in Mesa, Arizona, with his family when his 2-year-old sister was found floating in the backyard pool.

"My grandma came in to look for her toothpaste and said, 'Where's the baby?' And my mom went running outside and there she was floating," Tristin told ABC News affiliate ABC15.

While his mother and grandmother called for help, Tristin performed chest compressions and mouth-to-mouth resuscitation on his sister, who was pulled from the pool unconscious and not breathing.

Tristin said that minutes later, his sister started breathing. She is currently recovering in the hospital and, thanks to Tristin, is expected to be fine.

"I couldn't imagine what was going through his mind," said Mesa Fire Department spokesman Capt. Forrest Smith. "Here he is, in a situation where most of us, if we had a family member in that position, as parents we tend to really panic and be concerned. I tell you, we really give kudos out to him."

Learning CPR has traditionally been an exhaustive half-day ordeal. But new research suggests a short 60-second training video might be just as effective.

For Tristin, imitating what he had seen on TV was enough. The boy, who is being hailed as a hero, said he would do anything for his sister.

"She's really beautiful and I love her really much," he said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Study: TV & Computer Time Can Lead to Poor Heart Health

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- If your job requires you to be in front of a computer screen all day, new research may give even more reason for you to get to the gym. A study published in the online journal Heart Asia shows that those who spend more time in front of computer and television screens take longer to recover after exercise that strains the cardiovascular system.

The study included more than 2,000 people from the United States who are all in their 30's. Subjects would undergo eight-minute treadmill tests, after which the researchers would examine how long it took for their heart rate to return to a normal level of activity.

For participants who spent more time in front of a screen on a daily basis, or for participants who did little-to-no exercise, their hearts took longer to recover. Similar results were found when researchers used several different variables.

The American Heart Association recommends at least 30 minutes of exercise time per day for adults, and at least 60 minutes per day for adults who are trying to lose weight or are on a diet.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio