IT’S KIND OF OBVIOUS: You don’t need to be a TV critic to know that TV can be a bummer, but a new medical study quoted in a Los Angeles Times science story yesterday suggests that the condition might actually be chronic.
Researchers at Harvard Medical School and the University of Pittsburgh studied more than 4,000 adolescents and concluded that each additional daily hour of television increased the odds of becoming depressed increased by eight per cent, a result not matched by time spent with video games or the computer.
Now, there’s a lot wrong with this sort of study that’s plain even to the untrained eye, starting with the fact that the subjects were teenagers, who have a lot to be depressed about — especially if you ask them. The study’s authors even admitted that the evidence linking TV to depression was, on the whole, largely circumstantial.
“It could be argued that people with the predilection for later development of depression also happen to have a predilection for watching lots of TV,” said Dr. Brian Primack of the University of Pittsburgh’s Centre for Research on Health Care.
The Times article also noted that the study was conducted over seven years, from 1995 to 2002, which just happens to be precisely when The Drew Carey Show was in production. Draw your own conclusions, but I’m just putting it out there.
In other glaringly obvious news, the UK’s Daily Mail tabloid reported that a new Big Brother-style reality show featuring 20 boys and girls between eight and 12 has attracted controversy, as the kids, who spent two weeks together isolated in six stone cottages in Cornwall without their parents, began bullying and physically threatening each other.
It didn’t take long for the boys to descend into violence, with one boy attacking another with a garden rake, and a third pulling a knife. The girls just as quickly began taunting and intimidating each other, the older ones picking on the younger, and an 8-year-old was filmed sobbing and pleading for her parents to take her home.
One has to wonder why Channel Four, the producer, is hiring childless people to produce shows with kids, as any parent could have predicted this inevitable outcome. A crowded bunny hutch and a bag of starving ermines would have produced much the same result.