Studies Tie TV Time to Lower Test Scores; Computer Usage Aids Learning

Article excerpt

Byline: Cheryl Wetzstein, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Excessive television viewing by children is linked to diminished academic achievement, according to a trio of studies released yesterday in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.

The findings underscore pediatricians' admonitions that parents should limit television viewing, especially for very young children.

One study of 348 California third-graders found that children with computers in the home - but no TVs in their bedrooms - scored the highest in standardized math, reading and language-arts tests.

Not surprisingly, children with access to home computers used them several more hours a week than children without home computers, said study authors Dina L.G. Borzekowski of Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and Dr. Thomas N. Robinson of Stanford University's Prevention Research Center.

Higher computer usage translated into significantly higher scores in all three test subjects, they said.

But not having a TV in the bedroom also was positively associated with higher test scores, the researchers said.

It's possible that children scored better on tests because they watched less TV. Children without bedroom TVs watched 10.7 hours a week, compared with 12.8 hours a week by children with bedroom TVs, they said. But there could be other factors at play, such as poor sleep habits owing to bedroom TVs, they added.

A second study, of nearly 1,800 first-graders, found that children who watched more than two hours of TV a day when they were toddlers performed poorly on three reading and intelligence tests. …