Unintended Consequences of Big-Screen TVs

Perhaps unsurprisingly, U.S. adoption of big-screen TVs has had unintended — and tragic — consequences. This story is in the San Diego paper today:

A 3-year-old girl has died from her injuries after a television and dresser toppled on top of her at her Spring Valley home over the weekend, authorities said.

…The accident has prompted Children’s Hospital officials to issue a warning to parents about the dangers of placing TV sets on tall, unstable furniture.

In the past 15 months, 15 children have been treated in the hospital’s trauma unit after being injured by falling TVs, according to Sue Cox, the hospital’s director of trauma services. Injuries range from broken arms and legs to severe head trauma.

“We are seeing a trend and it is very concerning,” Cox said.


  1. Let me begin by offsetting my screed by saying, as the parent of a 3-year-old, this is tragic, and my heart goes out to her family.
    That said, my 42″ plasma TV is a lot lighter than my old 32″ CRT TV. It may have a higher center of gravity (more likely to topple), but CRTs are unbalanced (very front-heavy), so I don’t think it’s much more likely to fall on a toddler. Furthermore, a lot of flat TVs are wall-mounted, which was very rare for CRTs.
    Thus, unless someone can propose a mechanism I haven’t anticipated, I think “falling TV crushes kid” injuries are less likely with modern TVs than they were with the TVs of 10 years ago.
    My opinion: non-story.

  2. Okay, I’m going to disagree gently. Heavier TVs were virtually impossible to flip, so they tended not to fall at all. Now, however, you can get very large and tippy TVs that, instead of weighing down a cabinet/etc, wiggle precariously on top, making neither any safer to be around.

  3. Very sad story.
    I lucked out — when my four year old tried getting something on top of the 36″ CRT TV and it fell on her, she 1) managed to partially get out of the way and 2) had a big sister and brother around to pull it off very quickly and get help.
    Although it wasn’t THAT tip-able…small kids do the oddest things. I think all parents need to remember that any object – CRT or plasma or whatever — weighing 60-100 pounds and elevated has the potential to a) be attractive to kids and b) do them great harm if precarious in any way. We tether bookshelves and dressers (or at least we’re supposed to)…we should think about our new TVs in the same way.