Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Go outside and play...

Your mother was right, turn off the boob-tube. A short piece in today's Science Times tells us of a study by Dr. Brian Primack and colleagues, linking the number of hours of daily television viewing in adolescence to increased chances of developing depression in adulthood. The study assessed over 4,000 adolescents without depression and tested them again seven years later. For each hour of daily viewing, their chances increased and the effect was stronger for males than for females. Similar effects were not observed for video cassettes, radio, or computer games. Those for whom the effects were greatest watched more than nine hours of television per day. For them, the incidence of depression nearly tripled over those watching less than three hours per day.

Somebody tell me, how can you go to school and have nine free hours? The study controlled for effects of age, race, socioeconomic status and level of education, but what was watched, parental supervision, number of hours of sleep, exercise, nutrition, alcohol and drug consumption, or specific risk factors for depression were not assessed as far as I can tell from the abstract. I would like to know if the viewer was sitting still and watching or whether they were preparing food and getting dressed and had the box on in the background. Also, the depressive symptoms with only assessed with a 9-item checklist. At least with video cassettes you would have to get up eight times to insert and remove the cassettes. Wouldn't being completely passive for nine hours per day make anyone depressed? It strikes me as a lesson in powerlessness. I can't even read nine hours per day and I love to read.

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