Marie Evans Schmidt and Elizabeth Vandewater review research on links between various types of electronic media and the cognitive skills of school-aged children and adolescents. One central finding of studies to date, they say, is that the content delivered by electronic media is far more influential than the media themselves.
Most studies, they point out, find a small negative link between the total hours a child spends viewing TV and that child’s academic achievement. But when researchers take into account characteristics of the child, such as IQ or socioeconomic status, this link typically disappears. Content appears to be crucial. Viewing educational TV is linked positively with academic achievement; viewing entertainment TV is linked negatively with achievement.