Violent TV Shows Activate Sleep Problems in Children
Nowadays over sixty percent of television shows broadcast during prime time hours contain some form of violence. A new study conducted which focuses on violent TV shows argues that preschool-aged children are more likely to have sleep problems if they watched violent TV shows and videos before going to bed.
The average American child watches 13,000 violent deaths on television between the ages of five and 15 and far more fights and other violent incidents. And 4 in 10 children under age two watch TV every day. Parents seem to be unaware of the devastating effects such videos can have on their child, both psychologically and health-wise.
Like Us on Facebook
This study published in the journal Pediatrics is a wake-up call for parents to monitor the programs their children watch. The child will benefit much more if their parents swap Batman for Sesame Street, Dora, or similar TV shows.
Observational studies have long shown an association between media use and children's sleep problems. Now researchers in the US say they have evidence of a cause-and-effect relationship.
The researchers conducted a randomized controlled trial of 565 children aged three to five years and encouraged families to replace violent or age-inappropriate media content with quality educational and prosocial content. Among the children monitored, the most common sleep problem starting out- in 38 percent of the children- was delayed sleep-onset latency. During the study, children in the intervention group developed significantly lower odds of "any sleep problem" at follow-up.
"One of the things that's exciting for me is that if families want to make these changes, it doesn't require going to the doctor's office or going to a person's home," said Michelle Garrison, the study's lead author from the Seattle Children's Research Institute. "Making a relatively simple change in what kids are watching is a change worth the effort. Sometimes parents feel overwhelmed by the idea of getting rid of TV altogether, but switching shows can make a big difference."
The researchers got hold of these participants through initial home visits and follow-up telephone calls over six months. The participants were asked to answer a questionnaire that focused on the child's sleeping habits. This was collected at six, 12 and 18 months. Participating parents were told the study targeted media and aggression rather than sleep, to prevent bias. Researchers assessed sleep in terms of how long it took for them to fall asleep, night waking, nightmares, difficulty waking and daytime tiredness.
"Given that early childhood sleep problems have been associated with a range of deleterious outcomes, both acute and long-term, including increased injuries, behavioral and emotional problems, difficulties in school, and obesity, the availability of useful, feasible strategies is critical," the authors said.
Experts state that young children think in literal terms, and can't understand pretend-monsters or make-believe violence, even when parents explain it to them.