Children, adolescents, and television

Curr Probl Pediatr. 1991 Jan;21(1):8-31; discussion 32. doi: 10.1016/0045-9380(91)90034-i.


As we have indicated, children's television has either a documented or probable effect on a variety of health-related behaviors in children and adolescents in the United States. Studies of cognitive development indicate that television provides a stimulus for learning and that children learn from television. The adverse effects of television appear related to both the time spent watching television and the content of the programs that are viewed. The reviewed observations suggest that a variety of initiatives are warranted to alter the time children spend watching television, the content of programs, and the types of programs for children and adolescents that are produced and broadcast. These initiatives require the development of effective techniques and materials for counseling parents, as well as continued political and legislative activities at the local and national level. We must promote the conviction that time spent in activities other than television viewing will provide our children with the values necessary to understand and interact with an increasingly complex world. Effective governmental action on behalf of children to change television will require a reaffirmation and enforcement of the Public Interest Standard. For half a century, the broadcast media have been licensed to use the airwaves in the public interest. The diversity and magnitude of the adverse effects of television on the health of children strongly suggest that the use of television has not been in the public interest. Although cable television offers multiple alternatives, less than 60% of American households receive cable. Broadcast television still represents the only alternative for 40% of American children. Substantial regulatory change by the current administration is unlikely. Therefore, legislative activity to mandate broadcast practices responsive to the needs of children appears the most appropriate national approach.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aggression / psychology
  • Child
  • Child Development*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Obesity / etiology
  • Sexual Behavior / psychology
  • Television* / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Television* / standards
  • United States