TV makes for poorer relationships, study suggests

NZPA 2 March 2010

The more young people watch TV, the poorer their relationships with both their friends and parents, a new study suggests. Otago University study co-author Rose Richards said there had been some concerns among parents that their children might feel excluded if they were not watching the same TV programmes as their friends. “However, our findings give some reassurance that it is fine to limit TV viewing. In fact, it may result in stronger relationships between young people, their friends and their parents,” Dr Richards said.

The study involved 3043 New Zealand adolescents aged 14 to 15 in 2004. The teens completed a confidential questionnaire about their free-time habits, as well as an assessment of their attachment to parents and peers. The researchers also assessed interview responses from 976 members of the Dunedin study who were 15 years old between 1987 and 1988. Strong relationships with parents and friends were important for healthy development from teenage years into adulthood, Dr Richards said. “With the rapid pace of evolution in screen-based technologies, ongoing research is needed to monitor the effect they are having on the social, psychological and physical well being of young people.” The findings – the Dunedin Multidisciplinary Health and Development Study and the Youth Lifestyle Study – were published in the March issue of the Archives of Paediatric and Adolescent Medicine.