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Acad Pediatr. 2009 Sep-Oct;9(5):300-6. doi: 10.1016/j.acap.2009.04.006. Epub 2009 Jul 9.

Associations between media use and health in US children.

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UCLA Center for Healthier Children, Families and Communities, Department of Academic Primary Care Pediatrics, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Los Angeles, California 90024, USA.



Television viewing has been associated with poorer health attributes, but relationships between computer use and health are less clear. The aim of this study was to determine associations between TV and computer use, both separately and combined, and health attributes in US children.


We performed bivariate and multivariate logistic regression analyses of cross-sectional data on 54 863 children ages 6 to 17 years who participated in the National Survey of Children's Health. Key independent variables were TV, computer, and combined media use; outcome variables were 6 measures of health.


In models controlling for a wide range of sociodemographic variables, each additional hour of television viewing was associated with greater odds of overweight/obesity (odds ratio [OR] 1.05, 95% confidence interval (95% CI) 1.02-1.08), poorer oral health (OR 1.05, 95% CI 1.02-1.09), social-emotional problems (OR 1.08, 95% CI 1.05-1.11), concern about self-esteem, and lower social competence. Greater computer use was associated only with overweight/obesity (OR 1.04, 95% CI 1.01-1.07). Combined media use showed similar, but weaker, health associations to television viewing alone. Interaction analyses showed that TV viewing was associated with overweight/obesity only for white, not black or Hispanic, children.


TV/video use is associated with a broader range of negative physical and social-emotional health attributes than computer use. Associations between media use and health are modest, but persistent at the population level. TV/video use reduction strategies may lead to improved physical and social-emotional population health. However, reductions in TV viewing may have little effect on overweight/obesity in black or Hispanic children. Mechanisms underlying observed health associations need further study.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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