NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

TV AND TEST SCORES DON'T MIX

July 26, 2005

A new study finds that children who have TV sets in their bedrooms score lower on school tests than those who don't, according to the New York Times.

Published in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, the study involved 400 third-graders from six elementary schools in northern California. Researchers found:

  • Children with TV sets in their bedrooms scored 8 points lower on math and language-arts tests and 7 points lower on reading tests than children without.
  • However, children without TV sets in their bedrooms but with access to home computers scored 6 points higher on math and language-arts tests and 4 points higher on reading tests.
  • Overall, children with no TV sets in their bedrooms but with access to home computers scored highest on tests, while those with TV sets but no access to home computers scored lowest.
  • About 71 percent of children surveyed in the study had TV sets in their bedrooms, while 71 percent (although not necessarily the same children) had access to home computers.

Lead author Dina Borzekowski of Johns Hopkins notes that the amount of time spent watching television each week was not significantly correlated with test scores. However, study co-author Thomas Robinson notes that the issue may have more to do with parental control. Parents may not be aware if their children are up all night watching television, or if they are watching inappropriate programming.

"It is a physical object," says Borzekowski, "And it is a pretty straightforward thing to unplug the television set and remove it physically from the children's bedroom."

Sources: Eric Nagourney, "TV in Child's Room Sets Off Academic Alert," New York Times, July 5, 2005; Eva A. Sylwester, "Bedroom TVs Bring Down Test Scores," United Press International and Science Daily, July 6, 2005; and Dina L.G. Borzekowski, et al., "The Remote, the Mouse, and the No. 2 Pencil," Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, vol. 159, no. 7; July 7, 2005.

For NYT text (subscription required):

http://www.nytimes.com/2005/07/05/health/05beha.html

For study abstract:

http://archpedi.ama-assn.org/cgi/content/abstract/159/7/607

 

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