Excessive television viewing as a child can lead to a higher risk of smoking and gambling disorders in adulthood, a new study has showed.
The researchers’ follow-up data from the Dunedin Multidisciplinary Health and Development Study (known as the Dunedin Study) and investigated how television viewing in childhood was related to the risk of having a substance use disorder or disordered gambling in adulthood, according to the University of Otago, New Zealand.
Dr Helena McAnally, the study’s author says, “Excessive TV viewing during leisure time between the ages of 5 and 15 may contribute to the development of later disorders.”
“People often talk of television viewing as an addiction; this research indicates that, for some people, television viewing may be an early expression of an addictive disorder or may lead to later substance-related and other addictive disorders,” said McAnally.
For tobacco and gambling, these associations were independent of other potential influences on these outcomes such as sex, socioeconomic status, and measures of childhood self-control, said the study.
“Excessive leisure time television viewing in childhood and adolescence has been associated with a range of poorer adult health and well-being outcomes, but to our knowledge, this research is among the first to assess how a common, but potentially addictive behaviour, such as television viewing is related to later substance disorder and disordered gambling,” said co-author Professor Bob Hancox.
“The study highlights the potential need for guidance on digital health and wellbeing,” Hancox added.