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Article
Oct 2012

Television Viewing and Externalizing Problems in Preschool Children: The Generation R Study

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliations: The Generation R Study Group (Ms Verlinden and Drs Jaddoe and Guxens), the Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Sophia Children's Hospital (Ms Verlinden and Drs Tiemeier, Hudziak, Verhulst, and Jansen), and the Departments of Epidemiology (Drs Tiemeier, Jaddoe, and Hofman), Psychiatry (Dr Tiemeier), Pediatrics (Dr Jaddoe), and Public Health (Dr Raat), Erasmus University Medical Center, Rotterdam, and Department of Biological Psychology, Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam (Dr Hudziak), the Netherlands; Departments of Psychiatry, Medicine, and Pediatrics, College of Medicine, University of Vermont, Burlington (Dr Hudziak); and Center for Research in Environmental Epidemiology–Hospital del Mar Research Institute, Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain (Dr Guxens).

Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2012;166(10):919-925. doi:10.1001/archpediatrics.2012.653
Abstract

Objective To determine whether the amount, type, and patterns of television viewing predict the onset or the persistence of externalizing problems in preschool children.

Design Longitudinal study of a prospective population-based cohort in the Netherlands.

Setting Parents reported time of television exposure and type of programs watched by children. Externalizing problems were assessed using the Child Behavior Checklist at 18 and 36 months.

Participants A population-based sample of 3913 children.

Main Exposure Television viewing time, content, and patterns of exposure (at 24 and 36 months) in children with and without preexisting problems to assess the incidence and persistence of externalizing problems.

Main Outcome Measures Externalizing problems at 36 months.

Results Program content and time of television exposure assessed at 24 months did not predict the incidence of externalizing problems at 36 months (odds ratio, 2.24; 95% CI, 0.97-5.18). However, the patterns of exposure over time reflecting high levels of television viewing were associated with the incidence of externalizing problems (odds ratio, 2.00; 95% CI, 1.07-3.75) and the persistence of the preexisting externalizing problems (2.59; 1.03-6.55).

Conclusions Our study showed that high television exposure increases the risk of the incidence and the persistence of externalizing problems in preschool children.

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