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Association of Television Viewing During Childhood With Poor Educational Achievement
Detail: There is increasing concern about the amount of time that children spend watching television.1-2 Excessive viewing has been linked to a range of adverse health and behavioral outcomes. Another concern is the effect that television viewing may have on education. This concern is not new. In New Zealand, there was controversy about the educational value of television before television was introduced.3 On the one hand, television is an extremely effective form of communication that has the potential to introduce children to a much wider range of experiences and ideas than would otherwise be possible. On the other hand, much of the content of children’s television programming is entertainment and probably of low educational value. Time spent viewing these programs may displace more educational activities such as homework, reading, or creative play.4

The results of this study set in Dunedin, New Zealand showed that the mean time spent watching television during childhood and adolescence was significantly associated with leaving school without qualifications and negatively associated with attaining a university degree. Risk ratios for each hour of television viewing per weeknight, adjusted for IQ and sex, were 1.43 (95% confidence interval [CI], 1.24-1.65) and 0.75 (95% CI, 0.67-0.85), respectively (both, P<.001). The findings were similar in men and women and persisted after further adjustment for socioeconomic status and early childhood behavioral problems. Television viewing during childhood (ages 5-11 years) and adolescence (ages 13 and 15 years) had adverse associations with later educational achievement. However, adolescent viewing was a stronger predictor of leaving school without qualifications, whereas childhood viewing was a stronger predictor of nonattainment of a university degree.

Authors: Robert J. Hancox, MD; Barry J. Milne, MSc; Richie Poulton, PhD
Source: Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine. Vol 159 No.7, July 2005
Date: July 1 2005