hourly increase in daily television watching at 29 months of age is associated
with diminished vocabulary and math skills, classroom engagement (which is
largely determined by attention skills), victimisation by classmates, and
physical prowess at kindergarten, according to Professor Linda Pagani of the
University of Montreal and the CHU Sainte-Justine children's hospital.
"This is the first time ever that a stringently controlled associational
birth cohort study has looked at and found a relationship between too much
toddler screen time and kindergarten risks for poor motor skills and psychosocial
difficulties, like victimization by classmates," Pagani said. "These
findings suggest the need for better parental awareness and compliance with
existing viewing recommendations put forth by the American Academy of Pediatrics.
The AAP discourages watching television during infancy and recommends not more
than two hours per day beyond age two. It seems that every extra hour beyond that
has a remarkably negative influence."
QnA with Professor Pagani
Question: Why did you conduct this study?
Much of the research on school readiness has focused on how kindergarten
characteristics predict later success. Kindergarten entry characteristics
predict long-term psycho-social adjustment and economic characteristics like
income and academic attainment. Being innovative, my focus has been to examine
what predicts kindergarten entry characteristics. Adding further originality, I
also wanted to focus on neglected yet crucial aspects of school readiness such
as motor skills, which predict later physical activity and reading skills,
likelihood of being "picked-on", which predict social difficulties,
and skills at linked to doing what you are supposed to be doing when having
been given instructions, which are in turn linked to attention systems that are
regulated by the brain's frontal lobe development.
Question: Who participated in this study?
girls and 1006 boys in Quebec whose parents reported their television viewing
behaviour as part of the Quebec Longitudinal Study of Child Development.
How did you come up with the figure of an extra hour of TV?
standard deviation is a commonly used statistic tool that tells us what is
within a normal range compared to the average. One standard deviation from the
average daily amount of television viewed by the toddlers in this sample (105
minutes) is 72 minutes. Some of the children who participated in the study were
two or even three standard deviations away from the average, and their kindergarten
indicators were correspondingly worse than those who were one standard
Question: Where did you examine television
study only looks at the most common form of screen time, which is in the home.
However, it may be an underestimate because many child care settings use
television as an activity during care giving.
Question: Why would these results be important for
of kindergarten's power to predict future productivity, the identification of
modifiable factors that foretell not being ready for the transition to formal
schooling represents an important goal for a productive society. By statistical
standards, the results show highly controlled modest associations, yet these
are net effects which suggest a developmental course which could ultimately
compromise achievement, social relations, physical prowess, and preferences and
habits toward a healthy lifestyle.