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Study: Too Much TV Leads To Aggressive, Anti-Social Behavior In Kids

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DALLAS (CBS 11 NEWS) - Could a child’s bad behavior be linked to too much TV? A new study appearing in the Journal Pediatrics suggests kids who watch too much TV can develop antisocial traits and become more aggressive.

Jennifer and Mike Gierkey, parents of two-year-old Skylar and six-year-old Jake, say they aren’t surprised at the study’s findings– and already screen shows first for violent content– even cartoons.

“He’s at the age now, where he sees a lot of stuff with the cartoons,” says Mike Gierkey, “so we try to control that. We watch everything first to make sure it’s not over the top.”

Still, the Gierkeys believe that TV, within limits, can be a learning tool. So, two-year-old Skylar can often be caught reminding others that there’s “no swiping.”

“She’s taking to Dora and speaking Spanish with Dora, and yeah, with Little bear and Sesame Street. She does interact with the shows,” says Jennifer Gierkey.

The Gierkey’s TV rules run counter to the American Academy of Pediatrics, which recommends children should watch no more than 1 to 2 hours of programming and that children younger than 2 should not watch any TV.

“I don’t have the TV on all day, she can’t watch my shows,” says Gierkey. “She can only watch what we choose to let them watch.”

A second study also in the Journal Pediatrics says the content of shows also plays a role in behavior and it’s important to reduce the amount of violence preschool-aged children are exposed to.

Michelle Bednarczyk is a mother to three– ages 13, 11 and 8. She says they’re all busy, active kids who make straight As, so she tends to be more liberal with the TV time.

“If they don’t want to do anything but sit in front of the television, if they’ve got other issues, then quantity can be a problem,” says Bednarczyk. “But, if they’re doing other things and there’s balance, watching a few more hours of TV than is recommended… well, there’s worse things they could be doing.”

Dr. Mark Anderson, a family physician practicing in Irving and Southlake, says he routinely urges parents during checkups to limit TV time as well– but, says behavior issues are only part of the problem.

“We need to get them [ children ] up and moving,” says Dr. Anderson. “We’ve got an epidemic on our hands in childhood obesity.” According to Dr. Anderson, children who watch too much TV are less likely to engage in physical activity– and that’s a problem.

“I don’t think it can be overstated– you need parenting going on and not just allowing television or some other device to do the job you were meant to do.”

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