Negative Effects of Television on Teenagers

One thing is clear: Teenagers watch a lot of television. According to an article in the February 24, 2009, edition of the "Los Angeles Times," the average teen watches approximately 103 hours of television a month 1. But if you're a teen who spends a large portion of your waking hours parked in front of the TV, you may want to find a new hobby. There is evidence to suggest that television can have a negative effect on an adolescent's mental and physical health.

Increases Sexual Behavior

Teens who watch television may have sex earlier than peers who watch less television, says a study published in the September 2004 issue of "Pediatrics." Researchers at University of California, Santa Barbara, showed that teens who watched the most television were twice as likely to engage in sexual behavior than teens who watched the least television.

Academic Problems

There is a link between the amount of television a teen watches and academic performance, says a study published by Jeffrey G. Johnson in the May 2007 issue of "Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine." Teens who watch 1 or more hours of television per day are at greater risk for learning difficulties, poor grades and failing to complete homework. Teens who watch 3 or more hours of television are less likely to go to college than their peers.

Decreases Sensitivity

Jordan Grafman, a senior researcher at the National Institutes of Health, determined that teenage boys who watch violent acts on television quickly become desensitized to the violence. Dr. Grafman believes that adolescents who are less sensitive to violence are more capable of committing violent acts. With the average person witnessing approximately 200,000 acts of television violence by the time they are 18 years old, the issue of desensitization is a potentially important one.


The more time you spend in front of the television, the less time you have for sports and physical activity, and the more likely you will develop a weight problem. There is a direct correlation between the amount of television a teen watches and obesity. According to a study published in the July 8, 2010, "American Journal of Epidemiology," if you are a teen who increases your television viewing in high school, you are likely to have a higher percentage of body fat than a teen who watches less television in high school.

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