When the television is always on: Heavy television exposure and Young children's development

Elizabeth A. Vandewater*, David S. Bickham, June H. Lee, Hope M. Cummings, Ellen A. Wartella, Victoria J. Rideout

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

83 Scopus citations


In American homes, the television is on approximately 6 hours a day on average. Yet little is known about the impact of growing up in the near constant presence of television. This study examines the prevalence and developmental impact of "heavy-television" households on very young children aged 0 to 6 drawn from a nationally representative sample (N = 756). Thirty-five percent of the children lived in a home where the television is on "always" or "most of the time," even if no one is watching. Regardless of their age, children from heavy-television households watched more television and read less than other children. Furthermore, children exposed to constant television were less likely to be able to read than other children.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)562-577
Number of pages16
JournalAmerican Behavioral Scientist
Issue number5
StatePublished - Jan 1 2005


  • Heavy television use
  • Household television
  • Media use
  • Reading skills
  • Young children

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Cultural Studies
  • Education
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Social Sciences(all)


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