Recently the journal Preventive Medicine published research that explores the potential impacts of placing a television in a child’s bedroom. By evaluating existing health survey data researchers sought to discover whether certain behavioral and social characteristics were especially associated with the presence of a television in a child’s bedroom (bedroom television or BTV). The article, TV’s in the Bedrooms of Children: Does it Impact Health and Behavior? (abstract), is not freely available on the web, but it can be purchased or read at a medical library.
To understand more about how BTV use might affect a child’s behavior the researchers used data from the 2007 U.S. National Survey of Children’s Health (NSCH), which gathered information through interviews of 46,687 family with children ages 6-17. As a part of the NSCH, parents were asked to estimate the amount of time their child spends watching television on an average weekday. At the NSCH data website it is possible to look at the questions from the interviews and also at other published research that has used the survey data. The website also posts the following description about the health survey:
The National Survey of Children’s Health is a national survey that was conducted by telephone in English and Spanish during 2003-2004 and for a second time in 2007-2008. The survey provides a broad range of information about children’s health and well-being collected in a manner that allows for comparisons between states and at the national level. Telephone numbers are called at random to identify households with one or more children under 18 years old. In each household, one child was randomly selected to be the subject of the interview. The survey results are weighted to represent the population of non-institutionalized children 0-17 nationally, and in each state.
The researchers who published the article in Preventive Medicine concluded that BTV is associated with:
- participating in fewer extracurricular activities
- getting less that optimal amount of sleep
- sharing fewer family meals
- gaining weight
- exhibiting problematic behaviors at school
If you are unfamiliar with the concept of association, please read a post on my other blog that I did some time ago concerning Causation vs. Association: The Basics.