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!


  1. I don't know if I really believe that it actually causes ADD, but I'm pretty sure it isn't good for them. I've heard that, if you did want to let them watch something (at least so you could get a tiny bit of housework done), to let them watch the same video over and over again. With repetition, they may learn something, as opposed to something different on the TV every 15 minutes.

    Ultimately, it's up to you though. I don't think you need any ammo to take to Kevin's dad's house. If you don't want her watching TV, that's your decision, not your father-in-laws! Good luck!

  2. LOL I was a no tv Mama until I got pregnant of Sarah was was so sick and Rebekah needed to stay in one place and be occupied for a long while while I was in a room that I visited way more often that I wanted and did not wanted her to practice her gagging sound for me!!!

    But we have limited access to TV so DVD's are the only was we watch tv, and both kids love reading books, going outside etc... so a limited amount of TV for me does not scare me of scaring them for life or making then have ADHD.

    But I do strongly believe that ADHD or ADD or link to other things then TV, A high sugar/fat diet (fast and junk food) have a greater impact on the brain connection then some think, combine that with a lack of physical activities and a lack or interpersonal relation then you have a great recipe for ADHD.

    So kids that are under stimulated, will find way to stimulate him/herself. So combine no much energy (kids do have lots of energy)and boredom then you have improper behavior happening!

    My conclusion is that TV won't give ADHD because their is no such thing as ADHD, but instead their is sinful, full of energy and no way to dispose of it kids! Solution, don't give Ritalin, give plenty of exercise and a healthy diet and some one on one attention and you get a cure for ADHD LOL

  3. PS why no such thing as ADHD???

    Well if you look closely to who are the target of it's diagnostic you will notice that it's mainly young boys school age in public schooling!!!!

    Public school is made for girls, really girls are able to sit longer and have longer attention span.

    Boys on the other hand, have lots of energy. Gods created man, therefore boys to be providers, protector and leader so they have more energy then girls who's task is to be a helpmate and homemaker and mothers!

    Even more interesting, a male brain will function 80 % better under pain (physical pain) then women, why??? Well being a provider, leader and protector does involve pain and therefore men are better prepared to do that task then women.

    Just think when we are in labor and experiencing pain how we feel that our brain just shut down, we do what we need to do, if if someone would ask you to do a math problem we would not be able to solve it but a men would!

    So if you want to make you little boys learn and behave let them get some physical pain, do 20 push up while answering math question :-)

  4. Oh Renee...I love your answers and I agree 99.999999%!! =) I do think that there are *some* true cases of ADHD, but for the most part, it is a label that has been made up, and those cases are few and far between.

  5. Oh to come back about TV, well we do not let our little one watch bad thing, ie taking the word of God in vain or teaching bad moral like not obeying etc...

    I do not think that they should be in front of it for long period of time and that the chores that they need to do should be done, they should behave, go outside and do some school work (according to their age)

    So overindulging in tv is the same as with reading too many books, eating too much food or sweets or alcohol or sex... the key is overindulging is a sin regardless of the activity.

    So a little tv, is fine with me.

  6. Thanks for commenting, girls!
    I actually don't mind her watching a bit at Kevin's dad's place. It's not very much, and I only insist that there be no killing! He usually keeps the tv on home and garden tv, because he knows I like that, too!
    The ammo part was mostly to convince him that we didn't want his old tv on our piano. Fortunately, he sold it.
    Julie, the study actually didn't link it to real cases of ADD. Just hyperactive kids. It's not enough to make me cover Katherine's eyes every time I see a moving picture, but it is something to think about.
    Renee, I agree with you about the school system! I have studied up on this a bit - have you ever listened to or read Jeff Myers? You'll like what he says! I think it will be a fun challenge, learning how to teach my boys, (if I have any - I'm not starting a rumor here) They'll still have to know how to write well, read well, and do math well, but I don't want to have to always be on their case to "finish the schoolwork" just because I haven't chosen teaching methods wisely.


  8. LOL Michelle so according to this study I should make our kids watch more TV so that way they both could be on the chart for weight! Apparently they eat too much good food and not enough junk to put them on it!

    Silly Doctor seams to be concern that our kids are too skinny, well maybe if he send a whole day with them he might see how active and energetic they are hehe!

  9. Haha, I never actually read the article! Just saw someone posted it and it was about TV and learning, and thought Dinah would appreciate it....

  10. This is an interesting discussion (I am almost a year late in adding my comments), but as a person with ADHD, who was raised on healthy foods, lots of exercise, and limited TV; and having raised a homeschooled daughter with ADHD, who had no TV until she was a teen (with the exception of a few videos at her grandmothers), I would like to chime in that we should be cautious about making generalizations about a disorder that is real and is thought to be from a nervous system that is out of wack. We have to be cautious about confusing a hyperactive kid who is on a poor diet, is undisciplined, or is in an inapropriate learning environment with a child who really does have ADHD and benefits from carefully controlled medication and support.