TV relieves children’s pain

By HSC Staff Writer • Published: November 27th, 2006
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

A kiss on a boo-boo usually does the trick. Sometimes a hug or soothing words from Mom are the magic formula.

But as time-tested as boo-boo kissing is, Italian researchers have found that Dora the Explorer, Buzz Lightyear or Homer Simpson may actually be the best medicine for a child’s pain.

The researchers studied sixty-nine children between seven and twelve, comparing whether no distractions, cartoons or Mom’s comforting words soothed their pain better while they were having blood drawn. The results? Dora, Buzz and Homer win in a landslide.

The children who watched cartoons reported the lowest levels of pain, while children who had no distractions at all reported pain levels three-times higher than their T-V-watching peers. Children whose mothers comforted them reported pain levels slightly lower than children who were not distracted at all.

The researchers say that T-V could act as a good analgesic because it’s a more passive distraction.

The researchers also asked mothers for their perceptions of their children’s pain. Like the kids, moms reported the lowest levels of pain if their children watched cartoons. Mothers who tried to comfort their children themselves actually reported the highest levels of pain. The researchers say this shows the difficulty many mothers face when confronted with something that is challenging for their child.

Watching cartoons also seemed to increase kids’ tolerance for pain.

After being forced to watch Toy Story for the thousandth time, most parents would probably agree: Cartoons do seem to have a numbing effect.