Frequent TV viewing affects children’s attention ability

By Xinhua

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Los Angeles : Frequent TV viewing during adolescence could increase the risk of attention and learning difficulties, said a new study published in the May issue of Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.

Teenagers who watch television for three or more hours per day may have a higher risk of attention and learning difficulties in their adolescent and early adult years, the researchers said in the study.

Watching entertainment TV programmes might contribute to learning problems because it requires little intellectual effort, promotes problems with attention and contributes to disinterest in school.

Children and teenagers in industrialized nations spend an average of two or more hours per day watching television, with more than 90 percent of viewing time watching entertainment and general audience programming, said the study.

The researchers studied 678 families in upstate New York. Parents and children were interviewed about television habits and school problems three times between 1983 and 1993, when the children were an average of 14, 16 and 22 years old. Between 2001 and 2004, when the children in the study had reached an average age of 33, they provided information about their secondary and post-secondary education, including whether they graduated from high school or attended college.

At age 14, 225 (33.2 percent) of the teens reported that they watched three or more hours of television per day.

"Television viewing time at mean age 14 years was associated with elevated risk for subsequent frequent attention difficulties, frequent failure to complete homework assignments, frequent boredom at school, failure to complete high school, poor grades, negative attitudes about school (i.e. hates school), overall academic failure in secondary school and failure to obtain post-secondary (e.g. college, university, training school) education," the study said.

The findings suggest that "by encouraging youths to spend less than three hours per day watching television, parents, teachers and health care professionals may be able to help reduce the likelihood that at-risk adolescents will develop persistent attention and learning difficulties," said the study.