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TV has negative impact on very young children's learning abilities

CHICAGO — Television viewing before the age of three may have adverse effects on subsequent cognitive development, according to a study in the July issue of Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.

Three- to five-year-old children watch an average of two or more hours of television or videos per day and much of this is not children's educational programming, according to background information in the article. Fifty-nine percent of children younger than two years regularly watch an average of 1.3 hours of television per day, despite the fact that there is no programming of proven educational value for children this young. A substantial portion of television actually watched by children does not meet the American Academy of Pediatrics recommendation of no screen time for children younger than two and only high quality, age-appropriate viewing thereafter, the authors suggest.

Frederick J. Zimmerman, Ph.D., and Dimitri A Christakis, M.D., M.P.H., of the University of Washington, Seattle, analyzed data from The National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1979 Children and Young Adults (NLSY-Child), begun in 1986 and conducted every other year. The NLSY-Child collects information on more than 11,000 children regarding developmental assessment, family background, home environment and health history. The researchers assessed data on 1,797 children who were approximately six years of age at the time of one of the four most recent survey interviews in 1994, 1996, 1998 and 2000. Scores in mathematics, reading recognition and reading comprehension from a commonly used and well-standardized test were compared with the level of television watching before age three and from ages three to five.

"This analysis has shown a consistent pattern of negative associations between television viewing before age three years and adverse cognitive outcomes at ages six and seven years," the authors report. "The inclusion of extensiv
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Contact: Pam Sowers
206-543-3620
JAMA and Archives Journals
4-Jul-2005


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