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Apr 07, 2009

Do television and the Internet produce bad and destructive behavior among kids? Maybe all they need is a breath of fresh air.

By FLYP Staff

Conventional wisdom blames American’s TV and Internet addictions for making kids fat, lazy and dull. Now, some scientists are saying, you can add depression and aggression to that list.
In a study by researchers at the University of Pittsburg, lengthy TV viewing was found to increase the risk of depression among young adults.
Over the course of seven years, researchers analyzed over 4,000 adolescents, all of whom started the study without signs of depression. The results showed that while 6 percent of those who watched less then three hours of TV a day were depressed, over 17 percent of those who watched more than nine hours a day eventually showed depressive symptoms.
One common complaint about TV viewing—as well as movie watching and videogame playing—is that the kids who witness media violence are more likely to become violent themselves. Scientists at Rutgers University agree.
They interviewed 820 teenagers—half from Michigan schools and half from juvenile detention centers—about their favorite TV shows, movies and videogames. Even after correcting for factors like academic difficulties and a history of psychological or emotional problems, the researchers found that children who get a heavy dose of media violence were more likely to behave violently as teenagers.
Research at Korea’s Kaohsiung Medical University produced similar results. In a recent study, more than 9,000 teens were asked about their Internet activity and behavior. Of those kids who were considered to be Internet addicts, a greater number engaged in aggressive behavior, such as threatening or hurting others.
Adding insult to injury, another study, this one by scientists at New York’s Stony Brook University, concluded that excessive online discussion of problems among adolescents can make things even worse. Working with 83 7th and 8th grade girls, researchers showed that the girls who most intensely talked, texted, instant messaged and networked about their social and personal problems were more likely to experience increased anxiety and, in some cases, depression.
So what can parents do?
The answer seems to be as simple today as it was when we were all kids: send them outside to play. Recent research demonstrated that school children that are given more recess behave better and learn more than those who don’t get regular breaks.
Just don’t let them take their cell phones or Game Boys.

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