New research may help to dispel the fear that watching fast-paced television programs adversely affects young children’s ability to concentrate.
In fact, the research suggests the programs may give children some additional benefit in performing other tasks.
The study was presented at the British Psychological Society’s Developmental Psychology Section annual conference, by Drs. Alexandra Lamont, Sarah Rose and Nicholas Reyland.
“There is a widely held belief that television watching in young children is responsible for behavioral problems, attention deficits, and developmental challenges,” said Lamont, lead author of the study.
“But there is little research that has addressed this to date for young audiences.”
In the new study, 41 three- and four-year-old children watched a slow- and a fast-paced version of Postman Pat before completing a block building task and tests of comprehension. Researchers observed that children paid more attention to the fast-paced program.
Although younger children seemed to pay less attention and put less effort in to the block building task after watching the fast paced program, all the children performed slightly better on this task after watching this program.
There was no difference in their comprehension of the two programs.
Said Lamont, “We know that the pace of children’s television has rapidly increased in recent years. It’s reassuring to discover that fast-paced programs have no detrimental effects on young children’s behavior in the short term.”
Lamont said such programs sustain children’s attention “and may even give them a slight boost in ability to undertake other tasks.”
“In this very complex area there are clearly still more questions to answer,” she said, “but we are providing some evidence to counter the supposed ‘harm’ that comes from the increasing pace of technology for young children.”