Junior TV addicts who are switched on to good results

12th June 2009 at 01:00
Watching for hours does no harm academically, researchers find

Long hours of television-viewing have no impact on primary pupils' academic achievement, a new study has found.

Researchers from Texas Tech University examined the school records of more than 17,500 children aged five to 10 to find out whether there was any link between TV addiction and academic success or failure.

Past research has shown that one in five children spends over 35 hours a week watching TV. Some studies have claimed that this can have a negative effect on school work and results.

The Texas Tech researchers examined data on the viewing habits and academic record of 17,565 pupils from kindergarten to fifth grade (equivalent to Year 6).

Parents filled in a questionnaire on their children's TV-viewing. Researchers examined pupils' reading and maths results throughout primary school, but found no link between the number of hours watched and school results.

"A child who watches fewer weekly hours of television ... does not have better academic achievement than a child who watches more weekly hours of television," they said. "Children who have better initial academic achievement do not appear to watch significantly fewer hours of weekly television than children who have poorer initial academic achievement."

They also found that increasing the amount of TV watched does not lead to a fall in academic standards. And cutting back does not improve results.

But while the correlation between TV viewing and reading was 0.53, it was only 0.07 with maths. So while the connection was minimal in both subjects, it was even less significant for maths than for literacy.

But a connection between TV viewing and poor academic results may emerge in adolescence.

"The possibility exists that, not only must children reach a certain threshold of television exposure to begin to experience a negative influence on their academic achievement, but they must also reach a certain age," they said.

They added that because TV viewing increases rapidly in the first years of school, early-years teachers should take the opportunity to education both children and parents about alternative ways to spend leisure time."

'The association between television viewing and achievement' appears in 'Teachers College Record'. www.tcrecord.org.

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