Fiona MacLeod
Publication Date
October 1, 2007

The Scotsman

According to this report on the diversity of opinion and evidence on the effects of television on children, the work of Dr Ross Deuchar, senior lecturer at Strathclyde University, suggests that "watching television in a structured way can both stimulate and educate young viewers". Contrary to studies indicating that television viewing can result in problems - ranging from possible reduced attention span to autism - it is suggested here that careful selection of programmes can be educational, both stimulating children's imagination and planting the seed of problem solving in children.


Evidence raised by this report includes a 4-year pilot partnership of non-governmental media organisations with a local Scottish education council to use film and television to improve literacy in primary school students. As stated here, "[a]n interim evaluation by Glasgow University last year said teachers felt the project had a highly significant impact on the motivation and attainment of pupils who may have otherwise required additional support". Teachers saw improvements in listening, speaking, and writing.


In contrast, the article sites a United States (US) study from Johns Hopkins University indicating that children who watch more than two hours of TV a day from the age of 2 and a half to 5 and a half have a greater risk of behavioural problems.


In addition, the article cites the work of Dr Aric Sigman, an associate fellow of the British Psychological Society, who found that "television had a narcotic effect, numbing rather than stimulating children's minds. He also claimed to have found links between long hours of viewing and cancer, autism and Alzheimer's disease."


Finally, as stated here, in the opinion of Scottish teachers, solitary activities, including television viewing, may limit socialisation skills and ability to engage in imaginative forms of play.