NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Watching Television Linked To Variety Of Ills

November 15, 2002

A small but growing number of Americans are making a commitment to live television-free lives. For many of them, the decision was prompted by recent research associating excessive television watching to a variety of medical and mental ills.

  • A March 2001 study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences showed that compared with their healthy friends, Alzheimer's patients watched significantly more television when younger.
  • Another March 2001 study, this one in the Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine, found that obesity among children ages 8 to 16 has more than doubled in one generation -- and that those who watched the most television were the fattest.
  • A study in the March 29 issue of Science magazine showed adolescents watching more than three hours of television daily are much more likely to engage in violent behavior as adults.
  • Harvard University professor Robert Putnam blames television for an increasing disconnection from family, friends, neighbors and democratic structures.

An organization called TV-Turnoff Network, formed in 1994, sponsors TV-Turnoff Week each April. Officers of the group claim that more than 24 million people have participated.

The U.S. Department of Education's National Center for Educational Statistics says the proportion of fourth-graders watching two or less hours of television per day has risen from 40 percent in the early 1990s to 48 percent in 2000.

Source: Mark O'Keefe, "Tuning Out Catches On," Washington Times, November 15, 2002.


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