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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.