Does watching TV at an early age cause attentional problems?
The article I read discussed the results of a developmental research study conducted by Dr. Dimitri Christakis. The article explains that Dr. Christakis, a pediatrician at Children's Hospital in Seattle and a professor at the University of Washington, believes that television viewing at early ages, when the brain triples in size, may be harmful to a child's development. In 2004 Christakis helped conduct a study to examine to what extent television exposure at ages 1 to 3 is associated with the development of attention problems by the age of 7. This study found that regardless of the programs watched, exposure to TV at early ages was in fact correlated with attention problems by age 7.
The research referenced in this article was conducted to examine the hypothesis that very early exposure to television during the critical periods of synaptic development is associated with subsequent attentional problems. The hypothesis was tested using observational data from a nationally representative longitudinal data set. Researchers used the hyperactivity subscale of the Behavioral Problems Index (BPI) to characterize attentional problem status in children at or around the age of 7. Within the index is a survey of 5 areas; is the child easily confused, does he or she have trouble concentrating, does he or she act impulsively, have trouble with obsessions, or is he or she restless. The available responses to each of the 5 areas are: often true, sometimes true, and not true. The responses are then converted into binary scores consisting of often or sometimes true or not true. The binary scores from each area of the survey were then added together, resulting in subscale scores that when coupled with national norms created age-specific percentiles and standardized scores. The researchers then created a binary classification to signify whether attentional problems were or were not present in the...
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