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Children, Adolescents and Television

Television's influence on children is a function of the length of time they spend watching and the cumulative effect of what they see. By the time the average child reaches age 70, he or she will have spent approximately 7 to 10 years watching television. Therefore, the passive nature of television may displace other more active and meaningful experiences of the world. For some children, the world shown on television becomes the real world.

In the more than 10 years since the original statement was released, sufficient data have accumulated to warrant the conclusion that protracted television viewing is one cause of violent or aggressive behavior for some viewers. Recent reviews also report frequent viewers becoming desensitized to violence in the media, believing that violence is an acceptable response to a problem, or perceiving the world as a "mean and scary" place.In addition to these effects, television viewing has been linked to obesity.[12] Furthermore, although difficult to research, there is also evidence that frequent viewers of television score lower on measures of academic performance.[4,13]

The frequency of adolescent pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases and the prevalence of alcohol-related deaths among adolescents and young adults represent major sources of illness, injury, and death. Although there is no clear documentation that the relationship between television viewing and sexual activity or the use of alcohol and tobacco is causal, the many implicit and explicit messages on television that promote alcohol consumption and promiscuous or unprotected sexual activity are a cause for concern. American teenagers see an estimated 14 000 sexual references and innuendos per year on television, yet only 150 of these references deal with sexual responsibility, abstinence, or contraception.[14]

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