Students sitting in front of computers.

Association between Television, Movie, and Video Game Exposure and School Performance

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In a recent post I examined some of the ways that excessive use of electronic media can be a danger to young people. But how does media exposure affect children’s school performance? Students sitting in front of computers.

large study (with 4508 students participating) was recently conducted to find out how television, movies and video games affect the way young students perform in school. The study found that the more children watched television on weekdays and the more access they had to cable movie channels, the poorer they performed in school.

When parents restricted television and cable movie channels, the children did better in school. Compared with children whose parents never allowed them to watch R-rated movies, the children who watched R-rated movies even once in a while had significantly increased risk of poorer school performance.

And that’s not all. Exposure to violent programs was related to worse academic performance for girls during high school. On the other hand, exposure to educational programming was related to less aggression and higher grades during high school for both boys and girls.

Excessive TV and R-rated movies bring definite consequences to children and teenagers. But parents who control their children’s access to media can work to prevent those consequences, and can even help their kids by providing educational things to watch. 

Parents need to exercise influence over how much TV their kids watch, and over the content that kids have access to. When they do, and when the viewing is of positive material, there can be a positive effect on their children’s schooling and behavior.

Author

Gary L. Hopkins, MD, DrPH, MPH is currently an associate research professor at Andrews University in Berrien Springs, Michigan where he is also associate director of the Institute for Prevention of Addictions, Director of the Center for Prevention Research and Director of the Center for Media Impact Research.