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Too Much TV during Childhood Linked to Antisocial Behaviour

First Posted: Feb 18, 2013 06:40 AM EST

Kids who engage in excessive television-viewing are at a higher risk of developing antisocial and criminal behavior in adulthood, according to researchers at the University of Otago, New Zealand.

In order to prove the hypothesis, the researchers studied nearly 1,000 children who were born in 1972-1973 in Dunedin, New Zealand. Every two years between the ages of 5 and 15, the subjects were asked about the time spent in watching TV.

The researchers observed that those spending more time in front of the TV were likely to have a criminal record and also have an antisocial behavior in adulthood.

According to study co-author associate professor Bob Hancox of the University's Department of Preventive and Social Medicine, the risk of having a criminal record by adulthood rises by 30 percent with every hour children spent watching TV on a week night. Apart from this, they even develop aggressive personality traits in adulthood and experience negative emotions and are at a higher risk of antisocial personality disorder.

Various factors such as past antisocial behaviors, socioeconomic status and parenting factors were taken into account for this study.

This is the first study that has enquired about watching TV throughout childhood and has also looked at the different antisocial outcomes in adulthood.

"Antisocial behaviour is a major problem for society. While we're not saying that television causes all antisocial behaviour, our findings do suggest that reducing TV viewing could go some way towards reducing rates of antisocial behaviour in society," Hancox was quoted as saying in Medicalxpress.

The details of the new finding were published Feb. 18 in the Journal Pediatrics

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