Electronic Media and Health Outcomes

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Story Updated: Mar 19, 2014

Excessive TV and computer use could spell emotional trouble for children, researchers caution.

The finding published in JAMA Pediatrics is based on an analysis of electronic media exposure among more than 3600 2-to-6 year olds living in 8 different European countries.

Between 2007 and 2008, parents recorded the time their kids spent watching TV, using computers or playing video games. 2 years later, they offered an emotional report card regarding their child's state of mind and general social skills. The investigators observed no specific link between electronic exposure and a child's risk for developing low self-esteem or having peer problems.

However, girls were found to be more likely to develop emotional problems the more they played video games or used computers while greater TV-watching was cited as having a negative impact on the ability of both boys and girls to socialize with other family members.

The study team said the findings suggest there is a need for more research to better understand the ways media exposure might harm the mental health of young children.

I'm Dr. Cindy Haines of HealthDay TV with news from today that can lead to healthy tomorrows.

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