Sunday, February 19, 2006

Television. Bad for Children?

Austan Goolsbee discusses a recent survey on television and children at Slate. Goolsbee explains that, "In a recent study, two economists at the University of Chicago, Matthew Gentzkow and Jesse Shapiro, came up with a different way to test the long-run impact of television on kids—by reaching back to the distant past of the information age. "

Seattle and Denver were the two example test cities cited by Goolsbee in the Slate article. Seattle had television programming a full four years before Denver and Gentzkow and Shapiro hypothesized, then, that, "If TV-watching during the early years damages kids' brains, then the test scores of Denver high-school seniors in 1965 (the kids born in 1947) should be better than those of 1965 high-school seniors in Seattle."

What they found, however, was, "After controlling for socioeconomic status, there were no significant test-score differences between kids who lived in cities that got TV earlier as opposed to later, or between kids of pre- and post-TV-age cohorts. Nor did the kids differ significantly in the amount of homework they did, dropout rates, or the wages they eventually made. If anything, the data revealed a small positive uptick in test scores for kids who got to watch more television when they were young."

I've run a similar experiment (by default) in my own household. Child one watched no television. Child two was born into a busier household--one with two full-time jobs, many college student babysitters, and mornings too crazy without the help of PBS. We'll see what the test results will be!