Doctors Warn of Hazards of TV Viewing by Children

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Associated Press

A task force of the American Academy of Pediatrics has concluded that excessive television viewing by children may be harmful, and recommends that parents complain to network officials and politicians about the quality of programming.

The report, released last week by the five-member panel, said that American children aged 2 to 12 watch an average of 25 hours of television a week. Excessive viewing could lead to violent behavior and poor school performance and contribute to teen-age pregnancy, it said.

“Most grade-school children spend more hours watching television than they spend in the classroom,” said Dr. H. James Holroyd, a task force member from La Canada. “That’s not a statistic that most people are aware of--that shocks most people when they hear it.


“We feel that television does a lot of good and television has the potential for a significant positive influence on children, adolescents and families, but in spite of that, there are a number of areas of negative impact.”

The task force members, all pediatricians, characterized television watching as a passive occupation that reduces the time spent reading and using other active learning skills.

They said adolescents on television are portrayed in a constant state of sexual crisis. Sexual relationships develop rapidly and the risk of pregnancy is rarely considered--a factor that may contribute to teen-age pregnancies, according to the task force.

Repeated exposure to televised violence makes children violence-prone, the task force found. They also said television gives an unrealistic view of solving problems and resolving conflicts.

The medium was faulted for perpetuating racial and ethnic stereotypes and doing little to promote a sympathetic understanding of the handicapped and their problems.

And television promotes obesity in children by encouraging them to eat high-calorie junk foods, the doctors said.