Challenging the findings of an earlier research, a new study claims that there is no evidence to show that exposure to television in toddlerhood causes attention-deficit problems in school-age children.
The new research, published in the journal Psychological Science, re-examined previous work that claimed to show a direct link between early screen time and attention problems in children.
“The findings from the original study, upon further scrutiny, are not borne out. We found that there is still no evidence that TV, by itself, causes ADHD or any kind of attention problems in young children,” study co-author Wallace Dixon, Professor of Psychology at East Tennessee State University in the US, said
“Our research also tells us that it’s important to be skeptical of earth-shattering findings that come in the form of ‘something that everybody is doing harms our children’.”
The newly-reported research involved looking at the same data as the 2004 study and using multiverse analyses — a technique that involves asking a research question hundreds of different ways to determine if the answers are similar each time.
This method was used to create 848 analyses to find out if early TV viewing causes later attention problems.
A vast majority of results showed no link between the two. The few that did, the authors believe, reflect some oddities in the data set that are not likely to represent the real world.
“What excites us about the research is that we can ease up on blaming parents or making them feel guilty for letting their children watch television when they are very young,” said Dixon.