Sunday, April 04, 2004

ADHD and TV viewing: Stupid journalism

Attention Deficit Linked to TV Viewing (
Very young children who watch television face an increased risk of attention deficit problems by school age, a study has found, suggesting that TV might overstimulate and permanently 'rewire' the developing brain.

This stuff irritates me. I've not read the journal, but according to the press report the investigators found a relationship between tv viewing at ages 1-2 and ADHD-like scores on parental assessments performed at age 7.

It sounds like there is indeed an association between tv viewing at a young age and later development of ADHD. That's noteworthy. To jump from that to the above quote from the article is terrible journalism. I'm willing to bet, though, that the researchers were guilty of the same leap.

Findings of association from a case control study like this can suggest additional research, but it shouldn't suggest much else. I'm willing to bet that what this team discovered is that ADHD is a lifelong disorder (disorder = trait that is not adaptive) that's inherited, and that TV is popular with siblings of children with ADHD (who also have ADHD features), with adults of children with ADHD (likewise) and with children who have ADHD. There may even be more evidence to support my explanation than the equally unsubstantiated idea that TV exposure causes ADHD.

The last thing these parents need is another load of guilt. They're plenty stressed already.


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