Researchers at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine surveyed 1,347 women who had children ages 35 months to 4 years to assess just how much time the kids spent in front on the tube. They knew that young children of white mothers and young children of Hispanic mothers watched similar amounts of TV (we'll go out on a limb here and say "too much"), but they seemed to think there might be some variables to be explored within those numbers and perhaps, down the road, interventions to be found.
They were right on the former. The latter remains to be seen. The researchers found that kids of English-speaking Hispanic moms and kids of Spanish-speaking Hispanic moms watched about the same amount of TV during their first year (yes, yes, infants watching any TV...). But by the second and third years, children of the English-speaking moms watched more, a lot more.
Maybe TV simply is less important to Spanish-speaking moms, the researchers speculated, or maybe there are fewer Spanish-language shows for toddlers.
Regardless, they conclude: "These findings highlight the need to further understand sociocultural factors that influence television viewing habits in young Hispanic children. Interventionists should consider such factors when designing interventions targeting television viewing in young Hispanic children. Additionally, these findings emphasize the need for researchers to appreciate the heterogeneity of the Hispanic population when describing health behaviors and outcomes in this population."
And if you're wondering why this is relevant, the researchers point out in the study's introduction: "Excessive television viewing in early childhood is associated with a multitude of negative health outcomes, including obesity, attention problems, and sleep troubles. ... Additionally, Hispanic children face disparities in many health outcomes,18 some of which may be associated with early television habits."
And check out these recent stories on TV viewing.
- Watching TV shortens life span, study finds (Or, as the subheads more accurately points out: "Australian researchers find that each hour a day spent in front of television is linked with an 18% greater risk of dying from cardiovascular disease and an 11% greater risk of all causes of death.")
-- Tami Dennis
Photo: If adults can't look away, it seems unlikely kids would be able to do so. Credit: Ian Waldie / Bloomberg News