Wednesday, October 04, 2006


Middle school students who watch TV or play video games during the week do worse in school than those who don't, a new study finds, but weekend viewing and gaming doesn't affect school performance much.

"On weekdays, the more they watched, the worse they did," said study co-author Dr. Iman Sharif of Children's Hospital at Montefiore in the Bronx, N.Y. "They could watch a lot on weekends and it didn't seem to correlate with doing worse in school."

Children whose parents allowed them to watch R-rated movies also did worse in class, and for boys, that effect was especially strong.

The findings are based on a survey of 4,500 students in 15 New Hampshire and Vermont middle schools. The study appears in the October issue of Pediatrics.

Oh my gosh. How did they do this study?

The study didn't look at grades or test scores, relying instead on students' own rating of their performance from "excellent" to "below average."

Heh? They didn't look at grades or test scores...?

"This study should hammer home to parents that this is really serious,"


We really mean it now, this is SERIOUS! We're not kidding this time! You darn parents really need to listen to US! We are NOT fooling around...

Sigh - I can't believe they didn't bother to actually check the grades and test scores but merely asked the kids, "So, how you doin' in school?"

All this study does is demonstrate a RELATIONSHIP between poor school performance and heavy television viewing - it does NOT demonstrate a CAUSE. Which is the problem with all these studies.

If we accept their data about how the kids are actually doing in school, then they have failed to show whether it is the television viewing itself or perhaps the attitudes of the parents in those different homes. Did one group of parents spend more time checking up on homework and monitoring test scores?

Is it something in the personality of the heavy watchers that leads them to so much viewing and such boredom at school? Is there something going on developmentally that leads boys in the one category to do poorer than girls?

They really can't answer any of these questions. All they are ever going to be able to prove is a relationship. And that is because they have no way to come up with a control group - that would be a group of kids where everything is the same except they've never seen tv. Now where the heck are you going to find a group of kids like that?

UPDATE: In looking over this study a little more, I realize that I responded a bit too quickly. If we accept that the one group of kids - weekday watchers and gamers - did more poorly than weekend only watchers and gamers, then what that basically proves is that the content of the media is irrelevant. The issue is how much time the kid is spending with media during the week.

In other words, if the kid is spending more time on homework and studying, then that kid will do better - no matter what media or videogames he/she will be playing on the weekends.

So no more skapegoating Marilyn Manson and Grand Theft Auto and Faces of Death. Just keep the enjoyment of these fine entertianments to the weekend and your kid will do just fine.


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