There is no meaningful relationship between television exposure and symptoms of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder

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OBJECTIVE. The recent but methodologically limited longitudinal study of the adverse attentional effects of television viewing in early childhood suggests a possible association. The purpose of the present study was to extend this investigation to a more current sample of kindergarten students using structural equation modeling, which allows for the simultaneous evaluation of predictors. METHODS. Two samples were randomly selected from nationally representative data collected from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study. A structural equation model was developed positing a relationship between kindergartners' television exposure and subsequent first-grade symptoms of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) while controlling for variables related to socioeconomic status and parent involvement. Variables were selected rather than developed and do not include an acceptable measure of ADHD, which limited the scope of the measures used. The model was tested by using the first sample and then cross-validated to the second sample. RESULTS. Although the adequate fit of the model to the data suggests that children's television exposure during kindergarten was related to symptoms of ADHD during the first grade, the amount of variance accounted for in the ADHD-symptoms variable revealed television exposure as a weak predictor of later ADHD symptoms. Effect sizes for the relationship between television exposure and symptoms of ADHD were close to zero and not statistically significant. CONCLUSIONS. Methodologic issues, including participant age, the measurement of ADHD symptoms, and evaluation of the importance of variables, may explain the differences between the present study and the results of others who have found television exposure to be related to attention problems. The measurement of ADHD symptoms through the use of longitudinal databases is an important limitation, because only a small number of items can be selected to represent symptoms. Future research is necessary to address these issues.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)665-672
Number of pages8
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2006


  • Development
  • ECLS
  • Symptoms of ADHD
  • Television exposure


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