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The Learning Habit, Study Part 1: Screen Time

The Learning Habit Study is a large online survey that took responses from 21,145 families and at looked at the impact of three variables on children’s academic success: screen time, family time, and parenting style.  In this series of blog posts, we will look at the findings for each variable and how parents might use this information to better help their children succeed.

Screen Time’s Influence on Academic Performance

In the Learning Habit study, parents were asked to estimate the amount of time each day their child spent watching television, playing video games, and texting.  Two and a half hours a day was the average amount of time reported.

To measure academic performance, the study established math and English scores on a 5 point scale, with 5 being a superior score and 1 being a failing score.  The scores were averaged into a grade score (GS) similar to the traditional grade point average (GPA) method employed in secondary schools.

The study found a full grade difference in the grade scores for secondary students spending less than thirty minutes of screen time a day (3.47 GS) and students spending four or more hours of screen time a day (2.40 GS).  Grade scores declined only slightly after thirty minutes of screen time until just before two hours of daily screen time when grade scores began to decline rapidly.

The study also found that more screen time tended to lead to more time spent on homework.  However, the increased time spend on homework did not result in an increase in grade scores, but the exact opposite.

Study Bottom Line

Screen time beyond thirty minutes a day showed a drop in academic performance with a dramatic drop in performance if daily screen time was more than two hours.

An increase in screen time showed an increase in homework time, but the longer homework time did not result in higher academic performance.

Practical Parenting Application

Limiting texting and other types of screen time to thirty minutes a day may work with some teens, but for other families, that may be unrealistic.  Try setting a threshold of less than two hours a day.

Have your teen refrain from screen time during their homework time.  For resistant teens, you can now point to research that shows homework takes longer as screen time increases.  It is likely you will be repeating yourself, but now your screen-free homework request is supported by research, not just common sense.

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