A meta-analysis examining the evidence between overall screen time, specific screen-based activities, and academic performance found that overall screen time is not related to children’s and teens’ academic achievement, yet the type of screen time is.
Mireia Adelantado-Renau and colleagues in Spain found that TV and video game time greater than two hours a day was associated with poorer academic achievement, while internet and mobile phone time was not. In addition, the negative effects on academic performance were larger for teens than for children.
The meta-analysis included 58 studies from 23 countries that met its inclusion criteria, encompassing the academic achievement of 106,000 4–18 year olds (assessed by school grades, standardised tests, and academic failure). Subgroup analysis was conducted between children and teens. In children (4–12 years old), the length of TV watching negatively affected performance in language (effect size = -0.20) and maths (ES= -0.36); in teens (12–18 years old), longer TV duration affected language (ES= -0.18) and maths (ES= -0.21). Playing video games also negatively impacted teens’ scores (ES= -0.16), but did not affect the scores of younger children (ES=+0.04).
The authors suggest that these findings offer evidence that decreasing TV and video game time might be an effective strategy in improving academic achievement in children and teens.
Source: Association between screen media use and academic performance among children and adolescents: A systematic review and meta-analysis (September 2019), JAMA Pediatrics