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Parents, Guess What? Three New Studies Show TV Lowers Kids Learning Abilities

From: <>

July 4th, 2005

TV is Bad for Children's Education, Studies Say

By Andrew Stern

The more time children spend watching television the poorer they perform
academically, according to three studies published on Monday.

Excessive television viewing has been blamed for increasing rates of
childhood obesity and for aggressive behavior, while its impact on schooling
have been inconclusive, researchers said.

But studies published on the topic in this month's Archives of Pediatrics &
Adolescent Medicine concluded television viewing tended to have an adverse
effect on academic pursuits.

For instance, children in third grade (approximately 8 years old) who had
televisions in their bedrooms -- and therefore watched more TV -- scored
lower on standardized tests than those who did not have sets in their rooms.

In contrast, the study found having a home computer with access to the
Internet resulted in comparatively higher test scores.

"Consistently, those with a bedroom television but no home computer access
had, on average, the lowest scores and those with home computer access but
no bedroom television had the highest scores," wrote study author Dina
Borzekowski of Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore.

American homes with children have an average of nearly three televisions
each, the report said, and children with televisions in their bedrooms
averaged nearly 13 hours of viewing a week compared to nearly 11 hours by
children who did not have their own sets.

The American Academy of Pediatrics has urged parents to limit children's
television viewing to no more than one to two hours per day -- and to try to
keep younger children away from TV altogether.


In two other studies published in the same journal, children who regularly
watched television before the age of 3 ended up with lower test scores later
on, and children and adolescents who watched more television were less
likely to go on to finish high school or earn a college degree.

University of Washington researchers reported that 59 percent of U.S.
children younger than age 2 watch an average of 1.3 hours of television per
day, though there is no programing of proven educational value for children
that young.

Their analysis of 1,800 children over a decade showed television watching
was linked to poorer cognitive development among children younger than 3 and
between the ages of 6 and 7.

TV watching appeared to help 3- to 5-year-olds with basic reading
recognition and short-term memory, but not reading comprehension or
mathematics, so the net effect of television watching is "limited in its
beneficial impact," wrote study author Frederick Zimmerman.

Similarly, Robert Hancox of the University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand,
found that children and adolescents who watched more television had less
educational attainment regardless of their intelligence, socioeconomic
status or childhood behavioral problems.

But condemning television as a vast wasteland -- government regulator Newton
Minow's oft-quoted diatribe against the medium -- would be unfair as
programing is not "monolithic," an editorial accompanying the studies said.

"Parents should be encouraged to incorporate well-produced, age-appropriate
educational TV into their children's lives. Such programing represents a
valuable tool for stimulating children's cognitive development," wrote Ariel
Chernin and Deborah Linebarger of the University of Pennsylvania.