Researchers at Cornell University and Purdue University have claim to have found a link between childhood TV watching and autism, confirming what everyone had already surmised.
The study, by Michael Waldman, Sean Nicholson and Nodir Adilov, is based on data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics American Time Use Survey, which indicates, most perceptively, that children in rainy regions watch more TV than ones in sunny regions.
Now, we know what you're thinking: "Maybe it's the gloom of living in a hellhole like Seattle, Washington, and not the TV, that makes children sick in their heads." But the trio have also related rates of autism to the number of cable TV subscribers in other regions, and found the same connection.
According to the research, heavy TV indulgence before the age of three is clearly associated with an increase in autism. The paper suggests that TV could be a trigger for those with a genetic predisposition toward the condition.
The authors concede that there has been a dramatic increase in reports of autism because of recent regulations requiring it to be tracked, and because the criteria for diagnosis have been expanding greatly, much the way that virtually all teenage health complaints were, until rather recently, attributed to masturbation. Autism has become the "in" diagnosis, so to speak.
But they contend that they've allowed for these phenomena, and still find a relation between autistic kids and the evil tube. Their paper is here, for those who wish to evaluate its merits for themselves. ®