Today, Cornell University researchers are reporting what appears to be a statistically significant relationship between autism rates and television watching by children under the age of 3.
So, really, when they say that TV rots your brain, maybe they were actually right. The article makes it clear that they have not proven that watching TV too much when you’re under 3 causes autism. But they have shown that the percentage of children with autism were rising faster in areas with cable TV than those without, and this is based on data old enough so that there still were areas without cable.
Research has shown that autistic children exhibit abnormal activity in the visual-processing areas of their brains, and these areas are actively developing in the first three years of life. Whether excessive viewing of brightly colored two-dimensional screen images can cause visual-processing abnormalities is unknown.
There are other factors that may come into play here. The negative effects of the TV watching could be due to increased time indoors rather than the actual TV. But it’s interesting that autism may be more strongly linked to the first couple years of life rather than genetics.
Regardless, get your kids outside. Playing in the backyard with the neighbor’s kids definitely doesn’t cause autism, or ADHD, or obesity.