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Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2005 Jul;159(7):614-8.

Association of television viewing during childhood with poor educational achievement.

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  • 1Dunedin Multidisciplinary Health and Development Research Unit, Department of Preventive and Social Medicine, Dunedin School of Medicine, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand. bob.hancox@otago.ac.nz

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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PMID:
15996992
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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