Background: Media can influence aspects of a child's physical, social, and cognitive development; however, the associations between a child's household media environment, media use, and academic achievement have yet to be determined.
Objective: To examine relationships among a child's household media environment, media use, and academic achievement.
Methods: During a single academic year, data were collected through classroom surveys and telephone interviews from an ethnically diverse sample of third grade students and their parents from 6 northern California public elementary schools. The majority of our analyses derive from spring 2000 data, including academic achievement assessed through the mathematics, reading, and language arts sections of the Stanford Achievement Test. We fit linear regression models to determine the associations between variations in household media and performance on the standardized tests, adjusting for demographic and media use variables.
Results: The household media environment is significantly associated with students' performance on the standardized tests. It was found that having a bedroom television set was significantly and negatively associated with students' test scores, while home computer access and use were positively associated with the scores. Regression models significantly predicted up to 24% of the variation in the scores. Absence of a bedroom television combined with access to a home computer was consistently associated with the highest standardized test scores.
Conclusion: This study adds to the growing literature reporting that having a bedroom television set may be detrimental to young elementary school children. It also suggests that having and using a home computer may be associated with better academic achievement.