TV Lowers Self-Esteem

Self worth linked to time spent in front of television in preadolescents

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Robert Carlson, M.D

(RxWiki News) Children are spending more and more time in front of the TV and other types of media. Does this affect their self esteem? Do race and gender play a role?

A new study suggests that time in front of a TV does lower the self esteem of preadolescents.

"Set limits on the amount of TV your children can watch."

The study was conducted by Nicole Martins, PhD, assistant professor of telecommunications in the IU College of Arts and Sciences, and Kristen Harrison, PhD, professor of communication studies at the University of Michigan.

"Children who are not doing other things besides watching television cannot help but compare themselves to what they see on the screen,” says Harrison.

The researchers had 396 black or white preadolescents respond to a questionnaire about TV exposure during various times of the day. They also completed the Lawrence Self-Esteem Questionnaire, the standard used to measure self worth at this age group.

After one year, the researchers returned and gathered data to measure changes in this activity.

Other ethnicities participated but, due to low turnout, the responses were not statistically significant.

The researchers found that an increase in time spent in front of TV was linked to a lower self esteem for all girls and black boys. However, self esteem was raised in white boys.

"Regardless of what show you're watching, if you're a white male, things in life are pretty good for you, If you are a girl or a woman, what you see is that women on television are not given a variety of roles," said Martins.

"This sexualization of women presumably leads to this negative impact on girls," she continued. "Young black boys are getting the opposite message: that there is not lots of good things that you can aspire to."

The study was published in the June 2012 edition of the journal Communication Research and was funded by the William T. Grant Foundation.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
June 1, 2012
Last Updated:
August 23, 2012