Effect of Television on Child Cognitive Outcome
AbstractThere is a widespread belief that exposure to television has harmful effects on children's cognitive development. While a few studies on historical data contradict this belief most research that uses recent data points to a negative correlation between hours of television viewing and cognitive outcomes. The causality, however, is far from established. Using the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth (NLSY) we study children between 5 and 18 years of age during late 1990s and early 2000s. We find strong evidence of negative correlations between hours of television watched and cognitive test scores. However, once parent's characteristics and unobserved family and child characteristics are taken into account these correlations go away. Based on family and child fixed effect estimates we conclude that hours of television viewed per se do not have any impact on children's test scores. Our conclusion is robust to different model specifications and instrumental variable estimates addressing potential measurement errors in the variable measuring television hours. Despite the conventional wisdom and the ongoing populist movement, proactive policies to reduce children's television exposure are not likely to improve children's cognitive development and academic performance.
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Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by Oklahoma State University, Department of Economics and Legal Studies in Business in its series Economics Working Paper Series with number 0804.
Length: 33 pages
Date of creation: 2008
Date of revision:
Television; child cognitive outcome; test score; panel estimation; instrumental variables.;
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