Early Television Viewing Is Associated With Protesting Turning Off the Television at Age 6

Dimitri A. Christakis, MD, MPH; Frederick J. Zimmerman, PhD

In This Article


Background: The effects of early exposure to television remain poorly defined. Although some have speculated that television may be habit-forming, evidence is lacking especially in young children.

Objective: To test the hypothesis that television viewing in the first 4 years of life is associated with protesting having the television turned off at age 6.

Methods: We used data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth. Parents reported how much television their children watched before the age of 4. They also reported how often their children protested having the television turned off at age 6. Their responses to this question were dichotomized to almost never vs other. Multivariate logistic regression was used to test the independent association of early television watching with subsequent protest at turning off the television, controlling for externalizing behavior scores at age 6, parenting style, and other covariates.

Results: Data were available for 1331 children. Sixty-three percent of children protested having the television turned off at age 6. In a logistic regression model, hours of television viewed per day before age 4 was associated with increased odds of protesting at age 6 (1.08 [1.02-1.15]).

Conclusion: Early television exposure is associated with resistance to turning off the television at school age.

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