Association of Television Viewing During Childhood With Poor Educational Achievement | Adolescent Medicine | JAMA Pediatrics | JAMA Network
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Article
July 2005

Association of Television Viewing During Childhood With Poor Educational Achievement

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliations: Dunedin Multidisciplinary Health and Development Research Unit, Department of Preventive and Social Medicine, Dunedin School of Medicine, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand. Mr Milne is now with the Social, Genetic, and Developmental Psychiatry Centre, Institute of Psychiatry, Kings College London, London, England.

Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2005;159(7):614-618. doi:10.1001/archpedi.159.7.614
Abstract

Background  Excessive television viewing in childhood has been associated with adverse effects on health and behavior. A common concern is that watching too much television may also have a negative impact on education. However, no long-term studies have measured childhood viewing and educational achievement.

Objective  To explore these associations in a birth cohort followed up to adulthood.

Design  Prospective birth cohort study.

Setting  Dunedin, New Zealand.

Participants  Approximately 1000 unselected individuals born between April 1, 1972, and March 31, 1973. Ninety-six percent of the living cohort participated at 26 years of age.

Main Outcome Measures  Educational achievement by 26 years of age.

Results  The mean time spent watching television during childhood and adolescence was significantly associated with leaving school without qualifications and negatively associated with attaining a university degree. Risk ratios for each hour of television viewing per weeknight, adjusted for IQ and sex, were 1.43 (95% confidence interval [CI], 1.24-1.65) and 0.75 (95% CI, 0.67-0.85), respectively (both, P<.001). The findings were similar in men and women and persisted after further adjustment for socioeconomic status and early childhood behavioral problems. Television viewing during childhood (ages 5-11 years) and adolescence (ages 13 and 15 years) had adverse associations with later educational achievement. However, adolescent viewing was a stronger predictor of leaving school without qualifications, whereas childhood viewing was a stronger predictor of nonattainment of a university degree.

Conclusions  Television viewing in childhood and adolescence is associated with poor educational achievement by 26 years of age. Excessive television viewing in childhood may have long-lasting adverse consequences for educational achievement and subsequent socioeconomic status and well-being.

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