Tuesday, August 16, 2005

New Research on the TV Impact
We all know it can kill you in the long-term, but what about those so-called "educational programs"?
While some think tanks preach the death of the tube - and I might be among them sometimes, Robert Hancox at the University of Otago in New Zealand has led an exhaustive research on the TV effects. Here are some words:
Drop outs
Kids who watched the least TV – especially between the ages of 5 and 11 – had the highest probability of graduating from university by the age of 26, regardless of IQ or socioeconomic status. While those who watched the most TV, more than 3 hours per day, had the highest chance of dropping out of school without qualifications.
Furthermore, the effects seemed to be strongest for those who had a median IQ level, probably because the outcomes for the children at either IQ extreme are less likely to be affected by TV watching.
Two other studies, also published in the July issue of Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine found similar results. Dina Borzekowski at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and colleagues found that Northern Californian third-graders - aged about 8 - with a TV in their bedroom watched more TV and performed worse on standardised tests than classmates without a bedroom TV.
Sesame Street
Frederick Zimmerman and Dimitri Christakis at the University of Washington in Seattle, found that kids who watched the most TV before the age of 3 performed poorest on reading and mathematics tests at ages 6 and 7. But there did seem to be some benefit for TV watching in 3 to 5 year olds, possibly because of the large number of educational programs targeted at this age category, such as Sesame Street. For the duration of this study – 1990 to 1996 – very little educational programming for under-threes was available in the US.
In an accompanying editorial, Ariel Chernin and Deborah Linebarger at the University of Pennsylvania, US, points out that all three studies do not separate the effects of educational versus entertainment programming.
One proposed mechanism of how TV harms educational achievement is that TV takes time away from creative play, reading or doing homework. But, the editorial notes, research specifically examining this suggests "it is not the amount of viewing that matters but the content of what is viewed".
They suggest that parents should encourage kids to watch quality, educational programming. But Barry Milne, a co-author on the New Zeland study and now at the Institute of Psychiatry in London, UK, points out this may be simpler said than done: “Content could well be a confounding factor. But what we did find is that the type of TV kids actually do watch is not good for them."
Journal reference: Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine (vol 159, p 607, p 614, p 619, p 687)

1 comment:

Ethan 75 said...

Sluggish Thinking
I truly believe viewers get hooked on the TV because of the power of image not so much because of its content. TV can turn your brain off and offer a distorted vision of life.