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Commercial television has had harmful effects on children in rural Alaska, according to the results of a six-year study of the National Science Foundation and the Alaska Council for Science and Technology.

Since 1976, when the Alaska legislature provided funds for a program that brought commercial and educational television to remote villages in Alaska, researchers at the University of Alaska Center for Cross-Cultural Studies have gathered data on how exposure to television has affected children.

Results of the research show that after exposure to commercial television for two or more years, students between the ages of seven and 18 "stereotyped" male and female behavior more frequently. Both male and female students said it was more appropriate for girls to cry, more appropriate for boys to swear or be loud, and more appropriate for boys to be doctors.

Although national research indicates that television usually expands children's awareness of career options, the exposure did not seem to increase village students' awareness of the variety or relative status of occupations. Girls said they would like to be nurses, teachers, or secretaries, while boys said they would become heavy-equipment operators, laborers, janitors, and occasion-ally, teachers, dentists, or doctors.

In particular, television seemed to affect negatively the occupational aspirations of native-Alaskan children.

By 1982, a third of native children gave "unclassified" or vague answers about their occupational aspirations. Only 4 percent of non-native students did so. Researchers theorize that the difference may be caused by a lack of role models for native children on commercial television.

The survey also indicated that watching television may cause students to read less.

In 1979, 91 percent of students who lived in villages without television could name the title of a book, while 74 percent in villages with television could name the title of a book.

A copy of the study is available from the Center for Cross-Cultural Studies, 708B Gruening Building, University of Alaska, Fairbanks, Alaska 99701.


A new study conducted by the University of Texas throws in doubt the common assumption that illegal aliens are a heavy drain on state and local treasuries.

The state of Texas collected between $157 million and $277 million in taxes from illegal aliens in 1982, while it spent only from $50 to $90 million on them for common services such as health, education, and legal assistance, the report found.

However, major cities with large alien populations fared less well. Austin, Dallas, Houston, San Antonio, El Paso, and the Rio Grande Valley areas, the six localities selected for study, collected between $5 million and $9 million in taxes from aliens and spent $13 million to $35 million on them, according to the report. The report urged states to help districts make up the difference.

Education is the most costly service provided to the aliens, the report found. Aliens usually pay directly for their health care services, and they rarely take advantage of the food-stamp program, the report said.

The study was conducted by the Lyndon Baines Johnson School of Public Affairs for the Governor's budget and planning office. The statistics are based on interviews with 253 illegal aliens.

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