If your toddler watches hours of television, he may be more susceptible to being bullied in middle school, according to new research.
The study, which was published in the Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics, found that with each additional hour (above the average of approximately 1.5 hours each day) a child viewed a TV program, there was an 11 percent increase in the amount he or she was bullied in middle school.
Researchers from the University of Montreal followed nearly 2,000 2-year-olds who were taking part in the Quebec Longitudinal Study of Child Development. Children were asked about how often they watched TV, and parents were asked about whether their child's behavior was impulsive or aggressive. Years later, when the children reached sixth grade, researchers administered a questionnaire to find out how often the children were teased or bullied.
The findings were clear: more than about two hours of TV watching per day takes away from engaging activities where children learn how to socialize, according to psychologist and the study's coauthor Linda Pagani. And the pattern remained even after family characteristics (income, functioning, and mother's education level) and the child's behavior were taken into account.
Related: Teaching TV Responsibility
However, experts note that cutting TV out of your toddler's daily routine doesn't mean she won't be bullied. It's important for parents to encourage their children to engage in activities—and when kids do tune into their favorite show, parents can play a more active role by discussing it alongside them.
Caitlin St John is an Editorial Assistant for Parents.com who splits her time between New York City and her hometown on Long Island. Follow her on Twitter: @CAITYstjohn.
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Image: Boy being bullied via Shutterstock