Parents worried about their children spending too much time in front of the idiot box can breathe easy. According to a study by Aletha Huston of the Department of Human Ecology at University of Texas, Austin, specific types of television viewing may actually enhance children’s intellectual development.
Speaking to Hindustan Times on the sidelines of a seminar at the IFA consumer electronics fair, she said, “The effects of TV viewing depend upon programme content and genre. Certain types of shows can help in developing the child’s intellectual capabilities.”
Huston and her colleagues analysed TV viewing habits of 200 children who were in the two- to seven-year age group over a three-year span. According to their study, young children who spent a few hours a week watching educational programmes had higher academic scores compared to those who didn’t watch educational programmes. “Also, children who watched many hours of entertainment programmes and cartoons had lower test scores than those who watched fewer hours of such programmes,” said Huston.
She further pointed out, “Good educational programmes can provide lasting benefits to children at many ages, but it may be even more important to expose them to these educational programmes for very young children because they are less likely to be exposed to formal pre-school instructions. Also, these viewing habits are formed in the initial years, which can lead to better development of a child’s intellectual capabilities.”