Researchers Find That Excessive TV Watching May be Correlated to Criminal Behavior

by elizabeths on March 7, 2013

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For years, scientists and psychologists have thought there to be a link between excessive television watching and criminal behavior, but there has yet to be a “real-life” study to prove their hypotheses, until now. Researchers have found that watching too much TV as a child may have long-term consequences that could last a lifetime.

The longitudinal study, which was based in Dunedin, New Zealand and carried out by the University of Otago, began in 1972 and 1973. Throughout the duration of the study, every two years children between the ages of 5 and 15 were asked how often they watched television. Researchers found that those children who watched excessive amounts of television exhibited criminal behavior notably more often than children who watched moderate and little amounts of TV. The risk of having a criminal conviction by early adulthood increased by 30% with every hour that children spent viewing TV on an average weeknight.

Criminal behavior wasn’t the only hazard that children’s exposure to excessive television posed. Researchers also found a link between children who watched too much TV and the display of aggressive personality traits in adulthood, a tendency for violent crimes as well as an increased risk of antisocial personality disorder. These types of personality traits could only be connected to excessive television watching, and were not linked to socioeconomic status, parenting factors or similar personality characteristics in early childhood. The results of the study and the links found were nearly identical for males and their female counterparts.

The findings of the Otago study are consistent with the American Academy of Pediatrics, which recommends that children should watch no more than one to two hours of television a day. Co-author of the study, Associate Professor Bob Hancox of the University’s Department of Preventative and Social Medicine concluded that “reducing TV viewing could go some way towards reducing rates of antisocial behavior in society.”




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