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TV and depressive symptoms in young people

The amount of media young people are exposed to may increase the number of depressive symptom they experience. A recent study suggests that TV watching may replace activities such as exercise or intellectual activities, which buffer against feelings of depression.

The study, published in The Archives of General Psychiatry, tracked 4,142 teenagers for a period of seven years.  On average young people reported 5.68 hours of media exposure per week, which included computer games and TV watching. Participants were not displaying depressive symptoms at the beginning of the study however over the course of the study 308 were; those watching more TV raised their chances of experiencing depressive symptoms. The authors found that the negative impact of the media was stronger for males.

The authors say that the media may influence mood through many mechanisms.  For example, TV watching can increase fear and anxiety, interfere with identity development and it may disrupt sleep.

Moderate media exposure may be not be harmful however too much exposure clearly interferes with behaviour, thinking and mood.  To read the article click here.

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