It has been known for decades now that too much TV can be a bad thing, especially for children. Recent research has even linked excessive TV viewing habits to obesity and elevated cholesterol in kids. Now it appears that too much TV can be an issue for even the youngest of children.
A new study published today in the journal Pediatrics has linked “fussy” babies and toddlers with elevated levels of media exposure. In short, babies who have issues with self-regulation are more likely to have more exposure to media than others.
The childhood problems linked with increased media consumption include problems sleeping, regulating emotions, self-soothing, and with the amount of attention they get. The studies authors believe that their findings could help parents of fussy babies by giving them a clue to how early interventions in their child’s media consumption could help the child develop better self-regulation.
The study looked at 7,450 children enrolled in the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study. Parents provided information on their child at the ages of 9 months and 2 years.
By comparing the parents’ reports of self-regulation problems and their child’s media consumption, researchers were able to link the issues. The study’s authors found that the most fussy of the children were also those that had the highest exposure to media. The study corrected for demographic factors such as income, race, and the home environment.
The study also found that an increase of one hour per day of lifetime TV viewing was linked to 7 minutes less sleep for children. For minority children, having TVs in their bedrooms was also associated with an average of 31 fewer minutes of sleep per day. White, non-hispanic children with bedroom TVs were found to sleep an average of 8 fewer minutes per day.
Though the link between media exposure and fussy babies became clear through the study, researchers say they are not yet able to determine exactly what that means. For example, fussy children could be using media as a consequence of their fussiness, or their increased media consumption could, in some way, contribute to their fussiness.