Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) affects between 3 and 5% of U.S. children, who have to be given medications to help them calm down so they can function in school. Scientists who have been searching for the cause of this disorder, which was almost unknown in the past, think they’ve finally found the culprit: television.
Researchers say that watching too much TV at too young an age can lead to ADD. They say that children under two should not be allowed to watch any TV, despite the special shows, like “Teletubbies,” that have been created just for them. Older children should watch no more than two hours a day. Instead, the average is more like 4 to 6 hours. Each hour in front of the TV increases a child’s chances of having ADD by 10%.
A study of 1,345 children showed that three hours of TV a day made children 30% more likely to have ADD. Dr. Dimitri Christakis says, “The newborn brain develops very rapidly during the first two to three years of life. It’s really being wired?TV can cause the developing mind to experience unnatural levels of stimulation.” Children who are exposed to the unrealistic levels of stimulation at a young age continue to expect this in later life, making it difficult for them to deal with the slower pace of school and homework. This is made even worse by children’s shows like “Sesame Street” that change segments rapidly, in order to engage children’s shorter attention spans. Christakis found that the kids who watched the most TV were in the top 10% of children with ADD-type problems, such as lack of concentration, impulsiveness, restlessness and being easily confused.
Researcher Frederick Zimmerman says, “Each hour has an additional risk. You might say there’s no safe level since there’s a small but increased risk with each hour. Things are a trade-off. Some parents might want to take that risk. We didn’t find a safe level…”
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