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The Pediatric Forum
July 1998

Television and Childhood Injuries: Is There a Connection?

Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 1998;152(7):712-714. doi:

Fourteen years ago the American Academy of Pediatrics published an initial report1 on the potential of television to stimulate aggressive and violent behavior, and since then considerable evidence has been accumulated to support these preliminary findings.2-5 In 1976, Daven et al6 reported on 3 cases of children severely injured while trying to imitate motorcycle daredevil Evel Knievel. After numerous studies of televsion influence on real-life violence, including 2 major government commissions, the industry is experimenting with a 7 to 9 PM. "Family Hour" from which violence, along with sex, has been largely banished. In 1973, 18032 young Americans, 15 to 24 years of age, died in motor vehicle crashes, 5182 were murdered, and 4098 committed suicide. The death rate, for this age group, was 19% higher in 1973-1974 than it had been in 1960-1961, owing entirely to deaths by violence.7 Despite these various studies, however, we still know very little about the effect that television exerts on the intellectual and emotional development of children. According to several reports,1 an average child and adolescent watches television between 21 and 23 hours per week and this fact may lead us to suspect that, as this activity is the leisure activity that takes up the greater part of day, the child will not be involved in other potentially more injury-generating pursuits and thus television viewing will tend to result in a reduction in injuries. Nevertheless, from another standpoint, the influence of television on the child's emotional adaptation to his or her environment2-7 could well be related to a greater incidence of accidents, a conclusion that remains to be verified.