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The International Encyclopedia of Media Studies, 7 Volume Set by Fabienne Darling-Wolf, Radhika Parameswaran, Erica Scharrer, Vicki Mayer, Sharon Mazzarella, Kelly Gates, John Nerone, Angharad N. Valdivia

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28

Media Use, Scholastic Achievement, and Attention Span

George Comstock

ABSTRACT

Since the introduction of television, concern has mounted about the potential influence of television and other media on children's scholastic achievement. Can television and other media forms interfere in the development of skills necessary for successful test scores, grades, and other measures of academic achievement? Or, conversely, can media facilitate the development of such skills? In the current chapter, the research evidence pertaining to these questions is reviewed, exploring such related issues as whether television contributes to a diminished attention span, declines in fantasy play, imagination or creativity, or displaces time that could be spent with homework or other educational opportunities.

Media and Scholastic Achievement: Key Questions

The influence of mass media on the scholastic achievement of children and teenagers has been of prominent concern since the introduction of television in the 1940s (Schramm, Lyle, & Parker, 1961). Might television or other media in some way interfere with how well young people are performing on standardized tests as well as in school? Early empirically-based analyses emphasized the particular fit between characteristics of the young person and the amount and kind of media use (Schramm et al., 1961); seventy years later, the same prescription remains valid. What the young person brings to the medium – motive, attitude, cognitive ability – remains ...

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