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July 2005

The Relationship Between Children’s Television Viewing and Academic Performance

Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2005;159(7):687-689. doi:10.1001/archpedi.159.7.687

Despite the widespread use of computers and the Internet, television (TV) remains the dominant form of media in children’s lives. A recent nationally representative survey found that 8- to 18-year-olds watch an average of 3 hours of television a day compared with 1 hour a day spent on recreational computer use.1 Younger children (infants to 6-year-olds) watch an average of 1 hour of TV a day while they read (or are read to) for an average of 39 minutes per day.2 Although the American Academy of Pediatrics3 recommends that children younger than age 2 years should not watch TV, 59% of children in this age group watch TV on a typical day.2 In light of the significant amount of time most children spend with TV, research examining its effects on child development is clearly valuable. Three studies in this issue of the ARCHIVES4-6 explore the relationship between TV viewing and academic achievement. While all 3 represent potentially important contributions to this growing body of literature, certain conceptual and methodological issues merit further scrutiny. Specifically, our concerns relate to the use of estimates of total TV viewing time rather than analyses of specific content; the use of displacement as a theoretical explanation of effects; and various methodological issues.

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