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The more TV kids watch the lower their test scores

July 6th 2005

Kids and the TV

Do you remember the old saying “You are what you eat”?  Now it appears you are what you watch also.  According to a series of reports out this month in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, watching too much TV may lower test scores. 

Three studies being published this month will examine the effects of Television.  In the first study, Dina L.G. Borzekowski, an assistant professor at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health said “We looked at the household media environment in relation to academic achievement on mathematics, reading and language arts tests… We found that the household media environment has a very close association with performance on the different test scores”. 

The researchers found that kids with a TV in their room were likely to score 8 points lower on mathematics tests compared to a child who does not have a TV in their room.  However, children with a home computer are likely to have higher scores on tests in general.


The second study compared TV watching in kids 5 to 15 years of age. The researchers found that kids that watched the most TV during those ages were less likely to graduate from college by their mid 20’s.  The study was conducted by the University of Otago in Dunedin, New Zealand. 

In a prepared statement Dr. Robert J. Hancox said "We found that the more television the child had watched, the more likely they were to leave school without any qualifications ...  Those who watched little television had the best chance of going on to university and earning a degree."

"An interesting finding was that although teenage viewing was strongly linked to leaving school without any qualifications, it was earlier childhood viewing that had the greatest impact on getting a degree," he said. "This suggests that excessive television in younger children has a long-lasting adverse effect on educational performance."

In the third study Frederick J. Zimmerman and Dr. Dimitri A. Christakis from the University of Washington found that young children that watched TV were more likely to score lower on mathematics, reading recognition and reading comprehension tests. 

"We looked at how much television children watched before age 3 and then at ages 3 to 5," Zimmerman said. "We found that for children who watched a small amount of TV in the earlier years, there was considerable beneficial effect compared to children who watched a lot of TV."

For children aged 3 to 5, the effect was not as clear, Zimmerman said. "There were some beneficial effects of watching TV on reading, but no beneficial effects for math or vocabulary.”  He went on to say "The worst pattern was to watch more than three hours of TV before age 3 (per day). Those kids had a significant disadvantage compared to the other kids."

The Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children under the age of two not watch any TV.  One expert believes that TV can have both positive and negative effects, but it all depends on what children are watching.  According to Deborah L. Linebarger, an assistant professor at the University of Pennsylvania  "Content matters, Educational content has been found to be related to performance on school readiness tests, higher grades when they are teenagers, whereas, non-educational content tends to be associated with lower academic performance."

According to the Academy: 

  • The average child watches 3 hours of TV a day -- 2 hours of quality programming is the maximum recommended by the Academy.

  • Active play time is needed to develop mental, physical and social skills.

  • Children who watch violence on TV are more likely to display aggressive behavior.

  • Young children don't know the difference between programs and commercials.

By Dan Wilson
Best Syndication Staff Writer



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Copyright 2005 Best Syndication                                            Last Updated Sunday, July 11, 2010 01:18 AM