Monday, February 27, 2006

Does Television Rot Your Brain? Study Says No

"Does television rot children's brains? A new study by two economists from the University of Chicago taps into a trove of data from the 1960's to argue that when it comes to academic test scores, parents can let children watch TV without fear of future harm." Study Finds Test Scores Not Lowered by Television in today's New York Times.

The gist of the study is this: "The result showed "very little difference and if anything, a slight positive advantage" in test scores for children who grew up watching TV early on, compared to those who did not, said Mr. Shapiro. In nonwhite households and those where English was a second language or the mother had less than a high school education, TV's positive effect was more marked."

This is great news for parents of gifted children, whose kids, on average, watch 5+ hours of tv a day, particularly when they are young. TV is an excellent way to absorb lots of information, particularly for a pre-reader. For toddlers with a voracious little mind, it's a God-send. I'm not saying that babies should be plunked down in front of the tv and ignored for hours on end (most of them wouldn't sit still that long anyway), but for 30 minutes? Sure, why not? When Klaus was a baby (<3 months old) I would put him in the playpen and turn on MTV because that was the only way he'd be quiet long enough for me to get dressed for work in the morning. And he turned out musically gifted--and ADD, but they both run in the family so I'm giving MTV a pass. (In my defense, this was 1990, when Amy Grant could get on heavy rotation and Nirvana was as antisocial as they got.)

So tune in Nick Jr. and sit down for a minute, guilt-free. Kids and television do mix!

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