Apparently, TV Really IS Dangerous

In Freakonomics, we wrote that children who watch TV don’t do any worse (or better) on early childhood test scores than kids who don’t watch. More recently, Matt Gentzkow and Jesse Shapiro made a similar argument in a paper called “Does Television Rot Your Brain,” which Austan Goolsbee wrote about in Slate.

But in two separate incidents in Brooklyn recently, TV has actually killed children – by falling on them. Last week, the New York Times reported that a four-year-old girl named Debbie Lerner was killed when her family’s 27-inch TV/DVD/VCR fell off its rolling stand and crushed her. A three-year-old named Alexander Williams, also of Brooklyn, died last month in a similar fashion. These deaths prompted CBS’s The Early Show to run a report on the problem (CBS apparently discovered a third New York death in recent months).

This CBS piece pointed out how rare such accidents are: “The Consumer Product Safety Commission … has received reports of 57 deaths associated with furniture tip-overs from January 1999 through March 2005.” Still, this is one area in which size obviously matters, and I hope that as families continue to buy bigger and bigger TV sets – especially wall-mounted flat-screens – they take extra care to keep their kids safe.


davidmin

We actually switched to an LCD for the bedroom TV because of that.

prosa

" I hope that as families continue to buy bigger and bigger TV sets – especially wall-mounted flat-screens – they take extra care to keep their kids safe"

The lighter weight of flat screen TV's mean they're likely to do _less_ damage if they fall on children.

Daniel

Soon, they'll be so thin they'll be able to slice your poor unsuspecting children right in half... then we can reminisce about the good ol' days when our tvs were merely crushing people.

wkwillis

But flat screen tvs are also more "tippy" than the cubical tvs.

Big Tony

This gives me good leverage convincing my wife why we need a flat-screen TV.

fishkro

A good friend had a T.V. fall on her 4 year old. The little girl did not die but is severely brain damaged. She has had several major surgeries and suffers with almost daily seizures.
I wonder what the statistics are for survivors of a T.V. fall?

fishkro

Not to be the voice of doom….But I remember several years ago reading about a woman who was moving her T.V. and it was dropped. When she turned it on later it exploded and a shard of glass struck her in the neck killing her.
If I remember correctly it was in the Sacramento area. And I read it in the “ legitimate press” it wasn't an Urban Legend. Although it's bizarre enough to be!

Todd

I agree that heavier TVs can cause more damage and wall-mounted TVs create new ways for accidents to happen. But a larger screen also lessens the need to be close to the TV in the first place. Might that not act to counter an increase in the number of accidents as screen sizes increase?

davidmin

We actually switched to an LCD for the bedroom TV because of that.

prosa

" I hope that as families continue to buy bigger and bigger TV sets - especially wall-mounted flat-screens - they take extra care to keep their kids safe"

The lighter weight of flat screen TV's mean they're likely to do _less_ damage if they fall on children.

wkwillis

But flat screen tvs are also more "tippy" than the cubical tvs.

Big Tony

This gives me good leverage convincing my wife why we need a flat-screen TV.

fishkro

A good friend had a T.V. fall on her 4 year old. The little girl did not die but is severely brain damaged. She has had several major surgeries and suffers with almost daily seizures.
I wonder what the statistics are for survivors of a T.V. fall?

fishkro

Not to be the voice of doom....But I remember several years ago reading about a woman who was moving her T.V. and it was dropped. When she turned it on later it exploded and a shard of glass struck her in the neck killing her.
If I remember correctly it was in the Sacramento area. And I read it in the " legitimate press" it wasn't an Urban Legend. Although it's bizarre enough to be!

Todd

I agree that heavier TVs can cause more damage and wall-mounted TVs create new ways for accidents to happen. But a larger screen also lessens the need to be close to the TV in the first place. Might that not act to counter an increase in the number of accidents as screen sizes increase?