Sunday, May 07, 2006

White kids watch the least television: The Health Behavior in School-Aged Children survey provides numbers of the total hours of TV watched per day. The racial differences are large:

Percent watching 4 or more hours a day:

1. Blacks 43%
2. Hispanics 24
3. American Indians 22
4. Asians 19
5. Whites 11

This pattern does not simply reflect a lack of money to do other things: American Indians are poorer than blacks but watch less TV. The television (also known as the "babysitter") is often the easy way out for parents, so these numbers might be a measure of parental presence and effort. I imagine that watching lots of TV reduces physical health and social interaction, increases mental passivity, and promotes a distorted view of reality.

3 comments:

Jim Bowery said...

One of the outside-the-box hypotheses I've heard for the rise in autism is that programming for children has changed in character to be far more intensely stimulating to their primitive brain structures, and some of them have an adverse reaction to this. If that is the case then one might expect blacks to have a higher per capita rate of autism. I don't have racial breakdown on autism (let alone the level of autism which is important to good epidemiology). The ecological correlations are the inverse of what you would expect given these viewing habits of children.

Ron Guhname said...

According to data from the National Health Interview Survey, autism prevalence is the same for blacks and whites (but the sample of autistic kids is small--if I remember right, less than 100).

Anonymous said...

Jim Bowery, if the primitive parts of the brain are influenced, it would be expected that Caucasians would be more suceptable since Africans are way more evolved. In addition, Caucasians, though mostly human, are the only partial humans on the planet, being mixed with Neanderthal, unlike all other African Humans(Asian, etc.).