TV Really Might Cause Autism:A Slate exclusive findings from a new Cornell study


A speculation was made by Gregg Easterbrook about the possibility that there is a relation between the increase of TV watching frequency and the rise of autism incident. However, he is also still wondering if it happens because of the effect of the very bright hues from TV that could damage children’s brain development.

Research done in California, Oregon, Pennsylvania and Washington state by researchers from Cornell University proved that autism increased in cities that also have high frequency of TV cable viewing. Cornell study stated that autism occurrence broadly spreading was as a consequence of a big exposure from something to children. Thus, vaccination was considered as the cause, but various studies have failed to find definitive link between autism and vaccination.

The Cornell study which was carried out by Waldman and his associate was provoked by a curiosity. It analyzed the growth of cable TV access and autism rates in a 17 years period in California and Pennsylvania and they conclude that approximately 17 percent of autism growth rate in both cities was due to the growth of cable television viewing. Furthermore, supported by the studies carried out by Bureau of labor statistics on behavior, Waldman analyzed and found that in counties that have high precipitation the incidents of autism are high as well.

Although there is still no definite answer on how brightly colored two-dimensional screen can cause problems that leads to autism, Waldman had represent a relationship between TV and autism. He also drives other researchers to start scrutinizing the link of TV as one of the cause of autism.

However, there are several disagreements on the result. For example, time indoors, which could be considered as one of the autism triggers. In general, the indoor air quality is lower than the outdoor. Therefore, added exposure to indoor air pollution could harm children at risk for autism which families tend to move to areas that have high precipitation or high cable TV usage.

Facts that we are now live in a society where bright images on screens are becoming ever more ubiquitous encourage us to have a legal regulation to evaluate how products from TV networks and manufacturers are delivered to the society. The American Academy of Pediatrics recently recommended that toddlers should not watch TV and parents should be more aware of TV since there is no warning about the effect that TV caused to afflicted children. Also, Waldman thinks that families with toddler should protect their children from TV.

Studies in Amish society should now be considered because autism incident is rare and it is assumed because that they refuse vaccination and they do not watch TV.


Easterbrook,G. 2006, ‘TV Really Might Cause Autism A Slate exclusive: findings from a new Cornell study, retrieved 22 July 2009, <>.


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