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Effects of watching TV at children sleep duration

Friday, June 14th, 2013

Effects of watching TV at children sleep duration

Marcela Marinelli, postdoctoral researcher at the CREAL, gave the conference “Television viewing and sleep duration in children” on May 31st 2013 at the CREAL.

Why children watch television? Marinelli mentioned, among other, the screen, the brightness of the images and the remote control as factors that attract children. Is television viewing adequate for children? There are beneficial effects, like the entertaining, cultural and educational aspects. But it can also provoke problems, like an aggressive behavior. A general recommendation is that children, older than 2 years, should not watch more than 1,5 hours of TV per day. No television for children younger than 2 years.

Marinelli reported that a study with children of 4 years of age found that “there is an association between watching fast-paced television cartoons for nine minutes and the worse performance of executive functions”.

“There is an association between the hours of television viewing during adolescence and subsequent aggressive acts against others”, said the researcher about another recent publication.

All American animated features films for children produced between 1937 and 1999 contained violent acts. At the age of 18 years, the children have watched more of 200.000 hours of violence acts.

Sleep duration and TV. How much do children sleep?

Inadequate sleep duration is another problem of TV viewing. What is the relationship between watching TV and sleeping duration? The main conclusion is that the presence of the TV in the room may cause problems of sleeping duration. There are also negative effects of passive television exposition, with parents. In another study it was showed that adolescents who watched TV for 3 or more hours per day at 14 years presented a larger number of sleep problems later in early adulthood at age 16 and 22 years old.

Marinelli is now analyzing data on sleep from the Spanish INMA cohort. Findings from this study will be reported in the next few months.


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