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.