Television Viewing Habits of Indian Children Aged 3 to 11 Years: A Government Hospital Paediatric Out Patient Department Based Survey

April 2013
Australasian Medical Journal;Apr2013, Vol. 6 Issue 4, p244
Academic Journal
Introduction There is growing concern about negative influences of television viewing on children's health. Western studies have shown adverse impact on physical activity, sleep, eating behaviour and scholastic performance. There is paucity of data on television viewing habits of Indian children. This was studied in children aged 3 to 11 years attending a tertiary level Government Hospital.. Materials and Methods A cross-sectional descriptive survey was conducted in an Out Patient Department. Children between 3 to 11 years were recruited by opportunity based selection. Children without televisions at home or with co-morbid mental retardation or epilepsy were excluded. A 28 itemed questionnaire was administered to each care-giver -child pair. This included details of demography, televisionwatching habits and parental perspectives on child's health. Responses were documented by the interviewer. Nutritional status was assessed. Descriptive statistics were used. Results Study population comprised of 109 children (54% boys, 46% girls), 48 between 3-5years and 61 between 5-11 years. Most children went to pre-school or school. Majority belonged to middle and lower socio-economic classes (62% and 36% respectively). Maternal literacy was less than senior secondary in 69.72%. Television viewing was the preferred mode of entertainment. For indoor play although toys were preferred, screen games were played by 23.8%. In non- school going children average daily television viewing was 2.9 hours. In school going children average television viewing was 2.4 hours on school days and 3.2 hours on non-school days. Majority (71.3 %) lacked parental restriction regarding program content and 31.5% watched without adult supervision. The most common type of program watched was cartoon (animated feature). Only 39.8% watched programs with educational content. Inappropriate behaviours commonly observed included poor eating habits, improper posture, poor homework habits and television before bedtime. Conclusions Television is widely available and popular amongst children irrespective of economic status. Inappropriate television viewing can adversely affect physical and mental health of pre-school and school aged Indian children.


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