Ed-Tech Policy

TV in the Bedroom a Childhood Norm

By Rhea R. Borja — November 15, 2005 1 min read
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Nearly 70 percent of children ages 6 to 14 have TVs in their bedrooms, and almost 50 percent have video-game systems there as well, according to Nickelodeon, the New York City-based children’s cable network.

In a presentation of market-research data this month, the company also cited data by Nielsen Media Research that said children in that age range watch an average of 23 hours and 3 minutes of television per week, up from 21 hours and 18 minutes in 1992.

The company gave the presentation—titled “The New Normal”—at a symposium in New York on children’s television for its advertisers, said Joanna Roses, a spokeswoman for Nickelodeon, which is owned by the media giant Viacom International Inc. The cable network gleaned the findings from 10 or so marketing studies, including several it had commissioned.

The compilation of data follows the release of a scholarly study this past summer finding that children who have TVs in their bedrooms score significantly lower on standardized tests than their peers who do not.

That difference persists regardless of the time both sets of students spend on homework, said Dr. Thomas Robinson, a co-author of a study on 3rd graders’ use of media published in the July issue of the Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine. He is also the director of the Center for Healthy Weight at the Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital at Stanford University.

He and Dina Borzekowski, the study’s other co-author and an assistant professor in the school of public health at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, surveyed 350 3rd graders at six public elementary schools. Students with TVs in their bedrooms scored 7 to 9 points lower on mathematics, reading, and language arts tests than their classmates without TVs there, says the study, “The Remote, the Mouse, and the No. 2 Pencil: The Household Media Environment and Academic Achievement Among Third Grade Students.”

“This study doesn’t prove that putting a television in your child’s bedroom will decrease his or her test scores, but it does add to the increasing evidence that it’s not a good idea,” Dr. Robinson said.

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