April 5, 2019—It's a study that backs up what pediatricians have been saying for a long time: Preschoolers who have a TV in their room are likelier to grow up with more physical, mental and social problems when they become teens.
Canadian researchers followed nearly 2,000 children through age 13. They looked at whether the kids had a TV in their bedroom at age 4. Then researchers assessed the kids' health when they became teens. The research team considered many factors at this stage of the children’s lives, including their weight, eating habits, stress levels and whether they were bullied.
Among the findings? Teens who'd had a TV in the bedroom when they were preschoolers tended to have more health risk factors, as well as problems getting along with others. For example, they were more likely to have:
- A much higher body mass index (which can be one sign of excess weight).
- Unhealthy eating habits.
- Social problems.
- Symptoms of depression.
- A heightened risk of being a victim of bullying or a perpetrator of physical aggression.
The findings held up even after the researchers checked for other family factors that could also cause the teens to have such problems.
Overall, screen time in the bedroom during the preschool years (a key time of growth and development) doesn’t bode well for a child’s long-term health, one study author noted.
The researchers said their findings are more evidence that families need screen-free zones. The American Academy of Pediatrics advises that children should not sleep with TVs, computers or other digital devices in their bedrooms.
The study appeared in the journal Pediatric Research. It was also presented at the International Convention of Psychological Science in Paris.