Limiting your children's television viewing time to one hour or less daily could improve their grades in school, suggests a new study.
Iman Sharif and researchers at the paediatrics department of New York's Children's Hospital at Montefiore and Albert Einstein College of Medicine studied about 4,500 middle-school students in New Hampshire and Vermont, reported the online edition of science magazine WebMD.
In the survey, students reported whether their grades in the previous year were excellent, good, average, or below average. The survey also recorded the time they spent watching TV and playing video games on weekdays and weekends.
They also recorded their access to cable movie channels, parental rules about TV use, experience of watching movies with "R" ratings, self-esteem, rebelliousness, best grades, and least screen time.
The study found that students who spent the least amount of time watching TV and playing video games during weekdays reported the highest grades.
These students were also the most likely to have parents with rules about TV use, and they were the least likely to have watched movies with "R" ratings, it said.
The researchers weighed other influences such as the kids' self-esteem and rebelliousness, their mothers' parenting style, and social or economic factors.
The study, however, does not prove that increased TV time made grades slip. It's possible that the students with the best grades just aren't drawn to TV, and vice versa, the researchers noted.
Sharif and colleagues did not actually check the students' report cards. But said students generally tell researchers the truth about their grades.
Weekend TV watching time was not tied to the students' grades, as there is time for these activities without sacrificing studies.
The researchers stated that the study, published in the journal Paediatrics, may not apply nationwide since it was carried out in just two states.
But the results support the recommendation for parents to limit their middle-school children's TV and video game time to one hour or less daily, Sharif's team added.