Background: Television is a source from which children gain information about life and experience different types of behavior. The Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL) has not been used thoroughly to evaluate the behavioral effects of television viewing on children.
Objective: To examine the competency and problem behavior correlates of television viewing in school-aged children using the CBCL.
Design: Cross-sectional survey.
Setting: Two randomly selected grade schools, one from a high-income district and the other from a low-income district.
Participants: Students in grades 2 and 3 and their parents.
Main outcome measures: A questionnaire on children's time spent watching television and engaging in other daily activities and the CBCL were sent to the parents of 888 second- and third-grade students.
Results: Results of the questionnaire reported that the overall mean +/- SD daily television viewing time was 2.5 +/- 1.3 hours. Overall television viewing time had a negative correlation with social and school achievement (r = -0.17, P<.001 and r = 0.11, P =.03, respectively) subscale scores. Withdrawn (r = 0.11, P =.004), social problem (r = 0.14, P =.001), thought problem (r = 0.11, P =.03), attention problem (r = 0.20, P<.001), delinquent behavior (r = 0.12, P<.001), aggressive behavior (r = 0.22, P<.001), and externalization (r = 0.19, P<.001) subscales and total problem (r = 0.15, P<.001) scores were positively correlated with time spent watching television. Stepwise logistic regression analysis revealed that the only significant variables associated with a risk of watching television for more than 2 hours were age, gender, social subscale, and attention problem subscale scores of the CBCL.
Conclusion: As evaluated by the CBCL, television viewing time is positively associated with social problems, delinquent behavior, aggressive behavior, externalization, and total problem scores. Older age, male gender, and decreasing social subscale and increasing attention problem subscale scores on the CBCL increases the risk of watching television for more than 2 hours.