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Study quantified the problems of increased TV watching by toddlers – May 2010

A study reported in the BBC May 2010 of 1300 children in Northern latitudes of Michigan and Montreal (low sunshine and vitamin D) found a negative affect of every hour of TV watching. Suspect that a similar affect could be found for every hour not spent outdoors in those latitudes. This report was echoed in Natural News Sept 2010

Average TV watching: 2 year old = 9 hours per WEEK

11% of 2 year olds watched more than 14 hours per week

By age 10 “Higher levels of TV viewing at two was linked to a lower level of engagement in the classroom and poor achievement in maths. “

Lack of vitamin D was not mentioned in the abstract or reports.

"Common sense would suggest that television exposure replaces time that could be spent engaging in other developmentally enriching activities and tasks that foster cognitive, behavioural and motor development."

Impressive list of problems with increased TV watching

Prospective associations between early childhood television exposure and academic, psychosocial, and physical well-being by middle childhood.

Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2010 May;164(5):425-31.
Pagani LS, Fitzpatrick C, Barnett TA, Dubow E.
Ecole de psychoéducation and Groupe de Recherche sur les Environnements Scolaires, Université de Montréal, succursale Centre-ville, Montréal, Canada. linda.s.pagani at umontreal.ca

OBJECTIVE: To estimate the influence of early childhood television exposure on fourth-grade academic, psychosocial, and lifestyle characteristics.

DESIGN: Prospective longitudinal study.

SETTING: Institut de la Statistique du Québec, Québec, Canada.

PARTICIPANTS: A total of 1314 (of 2120) children. Main Exposure Parent-reported data on weekly hours of television exposure at 29 and 53 months of age. We conducted a series of ordinary least-squares regressions in which children's academic, psychosocial, and lifestyle characteristics are linearly regressed on early and preschool television exposure.

OUTCOME MEASURES: Parent and teacher reports of academic, psychosocial, and health behaviors and body mass index measurements (calculated as weight in kilograms divided by height in meters squared) at 10 years of age.

RESULTS: Adjusting for preexisting individual and family factors, every additional hour of television exposure at 29 months corresponded to
7% and 6% unit decreases in classroom engagement (95% confidence interval CI, -0.02 to -0.004) and math achievement (95% CI, -0.03 to 0.01), respectively;
10% unit increases in victimization by classmate (95% CI, 0.01 to 0.05);
13% unit decreases in time spent doing weekend physical activity (95% CI, 0.81 to 2.25);
9% unit decreases in activities involving physical effort (95% CI, -0.04 to 0.00);
higher consumption scores for soft drinks and snacks by 9% and 10% (95% CI, 0.00 to 0.04 and 95% CI, 0.00 to 0.02), respectively; and
5% unit increases in body mass index (95% CI, 0.01 to 0.05). Preschool increments in exposure also made a unique contribution to developmental risk.

CONCLUSIONS: The long-term risks associated with higher levels of early exposure may chart developmental pathways toward unhealthy dispositions in adolescence. A population-level understanding of such risks remains essential for promoting child development. PMID: 20439793

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