tvSmarter – Life in a TV Nation

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Why TV Undermines Academics & Values


Dr. Laura Markham has an excellent overview of the effects of TV, and why parents should limit, or even get rid of the TV.

Why TV Undermines Academics & Values


A sample from her article:

You recommend that kids don’t watch much, if any, TV. Why?

Because TV is addictive, and like all addictions, it has a high cost that we usually avoid acknowledging. Research shows that people who don’t watch TV are happier and healthier, have better self-esteem, and are less fearful.

Females who don’t watch TV have a healthier body image. This is all even more true for kids, because TV has a bigger impact on them. Not surprisingly, families who watch less TV are closer, and kids who see less TV become sexually active at a later age.

But let’s start with reading. We know that kids who love to read do better in school. Virtually all parents say they want their children to love reading, but most kids stop reading books that aren’t assigned in school by middle school. Only 28 percent of eighth graders score at or above the proficiency level in reading; in fact, only two percent of them read at an advanced level. What happens?

TV and reading are linked: Research shows that the more TV kids watch before the age of eight, the less they read after the age of eight. Of course, that’s a correlation, so it doesn’t prove that one leads to the other, but most researchers are convinced. If you want your children to be readers, don’t let them get addicted to TV and videos. Time spent on the one activity precludes the other. And once kids develop the habit of TV, they are less likely to seek out books of their own accord. Books — which are more work — just can’t compete with the lure of the screen.


I really like her question and answer format, some of the other questions are:

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Libraries – Do They Matter?

With the internet becoming the major source for research and entertainment, are libraries even relevant any more?

Definitely yes, for a number of reasons.

For young children, libraries are essential for developing a love of reading. With so many schools grimly focused on testing and improved test-scores, reading-for-fun has too often been taken out of the school day as an inefficient use of time. But as Dr. Krashen has demonstrated in his excellent book “The Power of Reading”, kids become skilled readers when they learn to love reading, that is when they read-for-fun. The secret of reading-for-fun is having a peaceful place to read, and having access to an array of fun books to choose from. This happens to be a perfect description of a library!

In fact, studies back this up:

“Elley found the availability of books is a key factor in reading achievement. He studied the reading achievement of children in 32 countries and found that factors which consistently differentiated high-scoring and low-scoring countries were large school libraries, large classroom libraries, regular book borrowing, frequent silent reading in class, and frequent story reading aloud by teachers. The highest scoring countries typically provide their students with greater access to books in the home, in nearby community libraries and book stores, and in the school.”

“Krashen found a significant positive correlation between each (U.S.) state’s 1992 fourth-grade reading comprehension scores on the National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP) and the number of books per students in school libraries (p.<01) as well as library use (p<.01), regardless of how much money the state spent on education per pupil. The findings suggest that for money spent on education to effect reading scores it needs to be invested in library books.”

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The Benefits of Bozo


There have been plenty of scientific studies showing associations between Television and academic mediocrity, depression, aggression, poor concentration, obesity, consumerism, civic disengagement, etc.

You would almost think that TV might be bad for you!

For lovers and defenders of TV, how to fight back? Luckily for them, two economists have come to the rescue, providing a statistical study showing that TV really is good for kids.


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Cheaters and the Tube


Here is an excellent letter-to-the-editor

San Francisco Chronicle, December 4th, 2008


Editor – The article, “Skimping on Ethics?” does not address one of the underlying reasons for increased plagiarism by students’ “borrowing” material from sources like the Internet.


I think it has a direct correlation to the influence of electronic visual media, such as TV, replacing more imaginative activities like reading. Students do not adequately develop their inner voices to confidently and creatively express themselves in writing. Thus, the temptation to copy someone else overcomes the inherent joy of self-expression.


This is a serious problem because writing and reading – not video-watching and TV – are still the foundation of our education system. As a former evaluator of essay-type tests from students around the country, I was appalled at the abject caliber of their writing.


What can adults do? Model good behavior for youth by reading and turning off the TV.




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