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Children Who Watch A Lot of TV Are More Likely to Become Criminals, Study

Update Date: Feb 18, 2013 02:30 PM EST

Children and teenagers who are allowed to watch a lot of television could be at a higher risk of developing antisocial and even criminal behavior in later life, according to a new study.

The study published in the journal Pediatrics, even revealed that people who had watched a lot of television as children were significantly more likely to have a criminal conviction later in life.

The latest study from the University of Otago in New Zealand involved 1,000 children born in Dunedin in 1972 and 1973.  Researchers said that every two years between the ages of five and 15, the participants were asked how much television they watched.

The study revealed that people who watched the most television were more likely to have a criminal conviction and were also more likely to have antisocial personality traits in adulthood.

Overall, the findings revealed that the risk of having a criminal conviction by early adulthood increased by about 30 percent with every hour that children spent watching TV on an average weeknight.

More television in childhood was also associated with aggressive personality traits, an increased tendency to experience negative emotions, and an increased risk of antisocial personality disorder in adulthood.

The study found that the relationship between TV viewing and antisocial behavior could not be explained by socio-economic status, aggressive or antisocial behavior in early childhood, or parenting factors.

Researcher Lindsay Robertson stressed that it's not the children who were already antisocial watched more television.

"Rather, children who watched a lot of television were likely to go on to manifest," she said in a news release.

"Antisocial behaviour is a major problem for society. While we're not saying that television causes all antisocial behaviour, our findings do suggest that reducing TV viewing could go some way towards reducing rates of antisocial behaviour in society," Bob Hancox, an Associate Professor of the University of Otago, said in a news release.

While past studies have suggested a link between TV viewing and antisocial behavior, the latest study is the first "real-life" study that has asked about TV viewing throughout the whole childhood period, and has examined a range of antisocial outcomes in adulthood. 

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