Healthline Blogs

Teen Health 411
Teen Health 411

TV May Hurt Attention and Learning Skills

TEXT SIZE: A A A
There is more research supporting my position that TV is rotting the brains of America's youth. Two recent studies suggest that time spent watching TV, which is not intellectually challenging, would be better spent interacting with others, reading, doing homework, engaged in a hobby, sport, or music practice. The health issues (e.g., obesity) associated with the inactivity of watching TV were not even addressed.

The first study, by Zimmerman, Christakis, & Meltzoff published in the May issue of Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine reported that by 3 months of age about 40% of children regularly watch TV, DVDs, or videos, and by 24 months this proportion rose to 90%, with an average of about 1.5 hours a day watched. That viewing was associated with smaller vocabularies and was the most harmful before 30 months of age. When asked why their children were viewing TV, more than half of the parents reported they thought it was educational (29%) or entertaining (23%) for their children and 21% said they used it as a babysitter, to be able to get things done around the house.

A second study in the same journal, by Johnson, Cohen, Kasen, & Brook concluded that, in a longitudinal study, frequent television viewing during adolescence may have been associated with development of attention problems, learning difficulties, and negative long-term educational outcomes. Their article reported that frequent television viewing during adolescence was associated with elevated risk for subsequent attention and learning difficulties even after family characteristics and cognitive characteristics were taken into account.

Youths who watched three or more hours of television per day were the most likely to experience poor homework completion, negative attitudes toward school, poor grades, and long-term academic failure. In addition, youths who watched three or more hours of television per day were the least likely to receive any college education.

I know I have said it before, but I think early parenting classes and the educational community really need to educate people about the damaging effects of TV - our children deserve the best chance we can give them!

Photo Credit: swanksalot

  • 1
Was this article helpful? Yes No
Advertisement

About the Author

Dr. Brown is a developmental psychologist specializing in adolescent health.

Advertisement
Advertisement