TV & Asthma Linked

Posted by: , March 21, 2009 in 11:36 pm


TV casues asthma in kidsThere is more fuel on the fire over the debate of the possible negative aspects of television watching and young children.  A new study concludes that prolonged television watching by young children can be a contributing factor to the onset of asthma.The study by researchers at Glasgow University, the results of which were published in the respiratory journal “Thorax”, concluded that young children who watched more than two hours of television on a typical day were almost twice as likely to develop asthma for every one child who watched less.

Developing stories regarding asthma receive worldwide attention due to the fact that  it has grown into a global epidemic, with estimates of the number of people affected reaching 300 million. It is also the most common childrens chronic illness. Symptoms include wheezing, shortness of breath, coughing, and tightness of the chest.

Adding to the unease about the disease, is that no singular identifiable cause has so far been isolated. Despite this, there is a large segment of the medical community that points to a lack of physical exercise in young children as a strong contributing factor.

There can be no disagreement regarding the fact that TV watching deprives children of time that could be spent playing outdoors. In years past when children came home from school, they couldn’t wait to run around and play with friends. Dr. Elaine Vickers of Asthma UK, stated that” the study’s findings add to a wealth of evidence linking a lack of exercise and being overweight with an increased risk of Asthma.”
To some, it is felt that there may be a window in early life when activity does something to protect the lungs. It is known that the taking of deep breaths keep lungs fit.  There is evidence pointing to the fact that breathing patterns may be important in the regulation of “airway smooth muscle tone,” a lack of which is known to be a contributing factor in the onset of Asthma.

And so, again parents have to make choices. On the one hand, they may feel that television adds to the child’s expanding understanding of the world they inhabit. Who can deny the beneficial affects of heralded childrens shows like Sesame Street and Blues Clues. The problem arises though  when television becomes the “electronic babysitter.”  And, isn’t time spent at night reading to one’s child as beneficial as the “educational”shows they may be watching during the day? And, isn’t it obvious that a physically healthy child will be better equipped to fight-off diseases and common colds?

The answer probably lies within ill-defined parameters of a balance between an active lifestyle for children, and their deriving certain benefits and enjoyment from television viewing. It comes down to a purely personal decision that each parent must make. But there is one element on which all can agree. Television shouldn’t replace conversation, reading, physical activity and play time with friends.  What would Marshall McLuhan say about this?


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