Entries in TV (16)


Study: Men Who Watch TV 20 Hours a Week Have Lower Sperm Count

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Here’s yet another reason for coach potato guys to turn off the TV and start exercising: a new study shows that men who watch 20 hours of TV a week had sperm counts significantly lower than guys who watched less TV.

Dr. Jorge Chavarro, an assistant professor of nutrition and epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health, led a recent study that measured TV’s effect on sperm by asking 189 young men, aged 18 to 22, about their TV watching and exercise habits.  The subjects were also asked about other habits, such as smoking and diet, and if they had any reproductive health conditions or suffered from stress.

Chavarro found that men who sat in front of the tube for 20 hours or more a week had sperm counts 44 percent lower than men who watched less TV.

Researchers say the reason why TV was associated with a lower sperm count is unclear, and it may be that TV is a signal for other factors.

The study also found that men who exercised 15 or more hours a week also had higher sperm counts than their less active male counterparts.  The researchers noted that this was only among men whose exercise routine was considered moderate to vigorous.

“The associations of TV watching and physical activity with sperm counts were independent of each other,” Chavarro said.

"What we cannot rule out entirely is that our finding for TV watching is specific to TV or sedentariness in general," he added.

“Guys, turn off the TV and put on the running shoes.  Adopting a less sedentary lifestyle may have a positive impact on sperm counts,” Dr. Chavarro advised.

The study was published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


How to Cope When Family TV Time Turns Awkward

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- You've probably been there before. Curled up on the couch with the family, TV glowing, a general good time being had by all.

Then, without warning, someone on the screen starts taking off their clothes. There's a string of dirty jokes. A kissing scene goes from G to R-rated at a nauseating speed. You want to crawl under the couch, flip a channel -- anything than to watch the material with the people who who you gave birth to -- or who birthed you. 

It's something especially likely to happen during the holidays, when relatives of all ages congregate in front of the TV.

Communication is one good thing that can come out of all the awkwardness during TV watching, according to Nadine Kaslow, a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Emory University.

"If the relationships are pretty good, there's open communication, and people feel pretty confident with one another, know that the awkward feeling is going to pass, and joke it off or chat it off," she said.

It also helps to do your research, as one New Jersey dad -- who did not want to be identified, found out when he took his then 14-year-old daughter and 12-year-old son to see Borat, the gleefully offensive Sacha Baron Cohen film that he thought was "just a funny movie."

"The biggest laugh in the theater was when I hustled them out while a rather large penis was on the screen," the dad said. "My son thought it was hilarious. My daughter was in full cringe mode."

P.Y., a 26-year-old Detroit native, found herself in the reverse situation when she took her mom to see the foul-mouthed teddy bear flick Ted "not realizing how crude the jokes were."

"She looked at me during certain parts of the movie to see if I had a reaction," said P.Y., who asked to be identified only by her initials. "I remember this specifically when Ted was at the cashier and he squirted lotion on his face -- super awkward. I just kept saying out loud, 'OMG.'"

P.Y.'s mom called the movie "very inappropriate." The viewer said of her mom, "I couldn't look her in the face for several hours after."

So: do you research and figure out what you can laugh off. If you're spending the holidays with extended family and friends, you might want to ask them to do the same.

"If you happen to be the parent with stricter rules and everyone's watching Wedding Crashers and you're not comfortable with your 8-year-old watching that, you need to say, 'If the family chooses to do this, then we're going to go in another room," Kaslow said. "It will mean compromise, it will mean negotiation."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


'Social Aggression' Plagues Most Kids' Shows, Study Finds

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Children between the ages of 2 and 11 are viewing social aggression on television at rates far greater than what many parents may realize, new research indicates.

In a study published Thursday in the Journal of Communication, researchers aimed to understand the role media plays in children's psychosocial development.  They found that among the 50 most popular television shows for 2 to 11 year olds as ranked by Nielsen Media Research, 92 percent of the programs contained some social aggression, both verbal and non-verbal forms.

"Parents need to be more aware that just because shows do not contain physical aggression, it doesn't mean that there is not anti-social behavior present," said Nicole Martins, assistant professor in the Department of Telecommunications at Indiana University and lead author of the study.

"I'm not saying that parents can't use the television at all," Martins added, "but it could be a teaching opportunity to emphasize that some of those mean remarks may cause lasting emotional scars."

In total, the research team watched 150 television episodes, three of each show, making note of socially aggressive incidents aimed at damaging social status, self-esteem or both.  Specific behaviors of friendship manipulation, gossiping and mean facial expressions were examined.  They found that such incidents occurred at the rate of 14 times per hour, or one every four minutes.

Furthermore, Martins and her team realized that social aggression was more often committed by an attractive person, presented in a humorous context, and neither punished nor rewarded.  While insults and name calling were the two most common verbal incidents witnessed, giggling and looks of disgust were the two most prevalent non-verbal behaviors.

"Of course, we cannot make firm claims about what types of effects exposure to these portrayals may have on young viewers," the study authors wrote.  That would require further study.

Rahil Briggs, assistant professor of pediatrics at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York and a child development specialist, recommended that young children view television shows with their parents so that they can interpret the acceptability of what is being seen rather than being passive recipients.

"Being able to talk about what you see is a key piece," Briggs said.  "In society, we have become more and more aware of the importance of bullying, and it's going to become increasingly necessary to understand the early building blocks of social aggression that may lead to this."

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


Strong Female Characters May Negate Effects of Violent Media

Getty Images(LAREDO, Texas) -- Sexual and violent content on TV may not affect viewers’ attitudes as much as we thought as long as there are strong leading ladies around to save the day, a new study finds.

Study researcher Christopher Ferguson, assistant professor at Texas A&M International University, dubs this the “Buffy Effect,” named after the popular TV show Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

The small study included 150 college students at a southern university who agreed to participate in exchange for extra credit.  The group was equally comprised of men and women, and 95 percent of the students were Hispanic.  The average age of the participants was 21.

The students were randomly assigned to watch an entire episode of one of the following: a neutral show without sexual or violent content, a sexually violent show with negative depictions of women, or a sexually violent show featuring strong independent female characters.

The neutral category included 7th Heaven and Gilmore Girls.  Neither of these episodes showed any sex or violence, but rather focused on dramatic or humorous situations between family members.

The Tudors and Masters of Horror comprised the sexually violent shows with weaker female characters category.  These shows depicted sexual aggression toward women, largely in environments where female characters were objectified and dehumanized.

Finally, the sexually violent shows with strong female characters were Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Law and Order: SVU.  While both episodes included sexual violence, they also portrayed heroines fighting back successfully against violence directed at them.

After watching the assigned show, participants were asked to complete several surveys to assess their attitudes toward women, depression and anxiety.  The study assessed depression and anxiety with standard scales used in psychiatry.  To assess attitudes toward women, participants responded to a modernized version of a validated scale used in multiple prior studies in this area.

The study found that women who watched sexually violent media were more anxious, and males who watched sexually violent media had more negative attitudes toward women, but only when strong female leads were not present.

Interestingly, males were least anxious after watching negative female depictions and most anxious with positive female depictions.

Ferguson postulates in the study that the negative depictions may be uncovering negative stereotypes some men may have about women, while the positive illustrations may be challenging those stereotypes.

Surprisingly, women’s negative attitudes towards women were highest among viewers of the neutral shows, even more so than the violent shows with subordinate portrayals of women.

“Negative portrayals of women in sexually violent media may actually provoke a kind of mild ‘backlash’ reaction at such negative portrayals, fostering a sense of female solidarity,” Ferguson writes in the study.

Sarah Coyne, assistant professor in the school of family life at Brigham Young University, was not involved with this study, but she has done research in the past dealing with violence in the media.

“I resonate with the author when he says strong positive females can be good for the media,” Coyne said.  “I think it was a well-done study.”

But don’t gear up for a Law and Order: SVU marathon just yet.  The study had many limitations, so the results cannot be applied to the general population.

First of all, it was very small, and there was significant answer variation among the individual participants.  Second, the fact that most of the participants were of the same ethnic group suggests that cultural factors could have been at play.  Finally, the participants were not surveyed before watching the shows, so it is unclear if and how much the shows were really responsible for the differences between groups.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Study: More TV Linked to Larger Waists, Weaker Legs for Kids

Hemera/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The more television a child watches, even in the first years of life, the more likely he or she is to be thicker around the middle and less muscularly fit, according to a new study.

Previous studies have linked lots of television with childhood obesity and other child health detriments, but this study's authors say their report is the first to relate how time in front of the boob tube affects a specific measure of physical fitness, their explosive leg strength, an important asset for sports like soccer, basketball and football.

Caroline Fitzpatrick, the study's lead author, said the measure isn't just important for children who want to be athletes.

"Explosive leg strength is an important measure of a child's overall physical fitness, their general muscular fitness," she said.

Fitzpatrick and her colleagues at the University of Montreal studied more than 1,300 children from across Quebec. When the children reached age 2 and age 4, the researchers asked parents how many hours per day their children spent watching television. On average, the 2-year-olds watched almost 9 hours of TV each week; by the time they reached age 4, average weekly TV viewing rose to nearly 15 hours.

A few years later, when the children were in second and fourth grades in school, the researchers measured their waist size and also how they performed on the standing long jump, hoping to measure each child's explosive leg strength.

The researchers were able to translate hours in front of the TV to centimeters of physical size and performance. They calculated that each hour of television watched during the week as a 2-year-old corresponded to a 0.361-centimeter decrease in a child's performance on the standing long jump. If a child watched an hour more of television as a 4-year-old than they did when they were 2, that corresponded to 0.285 centimeters shaved off of their jump. That extra hour of TV time also corresponded to a 0.047-centimeter increase in waist size.

The study was published Sunday in the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity.

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


Denver News Anchor Bitten by Dog: 'Having a Baby Hurt More'

Denver Post(DENVER) -- The Colorado news anchor who was bitten by a rescued dog live on the air told the Denver Post in her first interview that the first thought she had after the dog bit her was, "I'm bleeding, and it had to be on television."

Kyle Dyer, a veteran morning news anchor for NBC News' Denver affiliate KUSA, was reporting an uplifting story of a dog rescued from a frozen reservoir on Feb. 8.

When Dyer bent down to kiss the dog's nose, the 85-pound Argentine Mastiff named Max turned his head and bit into Dyer's face as his owner and rescuer watched in disbelief.

"It was a fluke, it happened," Dyer told the Denver Post. "It could have been so much worse. Not once was I afraid or scared. Yeah, it hurt, but having a baby hurt more."

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Dyer received 70 stitches and had her mouth stitched shut so that she could heal. A plastic surgeon grafted skin from her lower lip to build her a new upper lip, the Denver Post reported.

"We all think we know how to pet a dog, but we don't. You know, I don't, obviously," Dyer said. "By the end of that interview, it was just a fluke. I didn't see anything that I felt threatened [by]. I didn't realize that I was threatening [the dog]. It just happened."

The on-camera bite became a viral sensation, circulated all over the world.

"My niece lives in Lithuania, and it was in the newspaper in her small town in Lithuania. Can you believe that?" Dyer asked incredulously.

Dyer has already undergone two surgeries and is having the remaining stitches taken out this week. In the summer, a doctor will decide whether she needs any more surgery.

She has received an outpouring of support from people everywhere, who have left messages on her Facebook page and sent her cards. Dyer has also gotten some negative messages from people blaming her for the dog's temporary detention.

"People get heated and protective over dogs," she said. "I never felt any ill toward Max."

"The dog went and did his time, as the city says, and I'm glad he's back with his family because that must have been a really hard 24 hours for that family to go through that, so I'm glad they've got their dog back," Dyer said. "It was just an accident."

Dyer said the negativity was a "shame" because, for her, the experience had been oddly positive, and she is looking forward to getting back to work.

"I just keep reading the letters and know that I'm going to heal," she said. "I don't know how quickly, but I will and I'll be better than ever."

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


Kids Under 2 Should Not Watch TV, Experts Say

Hemera/Thinkstock(ELK GROVE VILLAGE, Ill.) -- Kids under 2 years old should not be in front of the tube: instead they should be encouraged to talk and play, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) announced Tuesday.

There is no scientific evidence that shows TV viewing in young children offers any benefit in early development, the AAP announced.  In fact, studies have shown that TV can cause sleep problems in children, the country’s largest organization of pediatricians noted.  The new policy statement will be published in the November issue of the journal Pediatrics.

But a recent survey found that 90 percent of parents said their children watch some sort of screen from electronic media.

“There have been studies that have looked at developmental health effects of TV in children, including language delays and disruptive sleep,” Dr. Ari Brown, a pediatrician and lead author of the guidelines, told ABC News. “Unstructured play time has been proven to be beneficial for critical thinking skills that kids need for life, so this is time better spent.”

Brown noted that children under 2 years old do not have the mental ability to understand the content and context within TV shows, even those that claim to have educational benefits.

“It’s entertaining,” Brown said . “People of all ages are drawn to screens.  But it’s not educational for kids that age.”

The AAP guidelines are no different from recommendations from 1999, which also discouraged TV viewing in kids under 2.  But this year, the association also made recommendations in regards to parents’ viewing habits.

“We addressed what we call second-hand TV,” Brown said. “This is when a child is playing in a room with the TV on.  It’s distracting for the child and the parent, so we recommend that if you want to watch your shows, try to watch them later when children are asleep.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio