A TV in the bedroom is associated with lower standardized test scores among third grade students

CHICAGO — In a study of third graders, children with a television in their bedrooms had lower scores on standardized tests while children with access to a home computer had higher scores, researchers report in the July issue of Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.

U.S. households with children have an average of 2.8 television sets and 97 percent of those households have at least one video cassette recorder (VCR) or DVD player, according to background information in the article. More than two thirds of households with children have at least one computer and more than half (53 percent) have home Internet access. While substantial evidence exists to show that people who use media more heavily are at greater risk for obesity and aggressive behavior, the relationship between media and academic achievement is less clear, the researchers suggest.

Dina L. G. Borzekowski, Ed.D., of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, and Thomas N. Robinson, M.D., M.P.H., of Stanford University, Stanford, Calif., compared students' third grade tests scores on the Stanford Achievement Test (mathematics, reading and language arts sections) in the spring of 2000 with data on television and computer use collected through student surveys and telephone interviews with parents for children in six elementary schools in the fall of 1999 and the spring of 2000. Three hundred forty-eight students completed the survey. The children had an average age of 8.5 years, were ethnically diverse and evenly divided between the sexes (53 percent girls).

The children reported an average of 3.3 television sets per households and almost all had a VCR. Seventy-one percent of the children had a TV set in their own bedroom and 71 percent had access to a home computer. Media environment variables were not significantly associated with the parents' education, students' ethnicity or the primary language spoken in the home.

Contact: Tim Parsons
JAMA and Archives Journals

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