Monday, April 26, 2010
Does watching TV cause ADHD?
"Does watching TV cause ADHD?
This new study that appeared in the April issue of Pediatrics suggests that it does."
This hadn't occurred to me. I just didn't like TV, and thought Katherine shouldn't watch it. I had a vague idea - I had read something, somewhere - that children have a different perception of reality than grown-ups, and that watching TV could mess up their little minds. But I didn't really know what I meant when I said that.
Every time I went to Kevin's dad's place, he would turn on the TV for Katherine. "You poor baby," he would say: "are they depriving you of your cartoons out there in the boondocks?" And then he would pick up his remote and put on the tv for her. I just laughed at him and said that we spent time with her, instead.
But then he got more insistent. He was getting a new tv, he said, and we should take his old one. Katherine could watch Sesame Street. It wasn't nice of me, not letting her watch tv. What was so wrong with it, anyways? Kevin watched plenty of it as a kid, and "he turned out okay."
While I could not deny that Kevin had "turned out okay," I still insisted that we didn't need tv.
Eager to find a study or two to base my arguments on, I asked fellow no-tv mom why she didn't let her kids watch tv. "It has been linked to ADHD," she said, "I've done some reading on it, and I'm so convinced that it's dangerous that I even ask the grandparents to turn the tv off when we are visiting."
I went home with something to think about, that day.
Since then, I've done a little research online, and it turns out that the evidence for this idea is based on a "survey of about 1,300 mothers who recalled the television habits of their children in early childhood."
The same article cautioned: "Such after-the-fact reporting is considered highly fallible because parents often over- or underreport the amount of TV watched."
"What's more, the study linked TV viewing to general attention problems, rather than to diagnosed ADD."
"According to Dr. Christakis," the article continued, "the rapidly moving images on TV and in video games may rewire the brains of very young children, making it difficult for them to focus on slower tasks that require more thought. Others say that TV may, at least temporarily, idle the centers in the pre-frontal cortex that are responsible for organizing, planning, and sequencing thought."
Not conclusive, they said. But it was enough for me; general attention problems, idle the centers in the pre-frontal cortex, I thought. That sounds cautionary.
All I really wanted was ammo.
Just wait till Kevin's dad mentions Sesame Street again!