Trends in the Well-Being of America's Children and Youth, 1997. SD 1.5 TV viewing habits

04/01/1997

Excessive television watching is negatively related to childrens and youths academic attainment. For example, children and adolescents in grades 4, 8, and 11 who watch five or more hours of television per day have on average substantially lower test scores than other children.4 Yet, as depicted in Figure SD 1.5, substantial percentages of students report watching large amounts of television on a daily basis.

Differences by Age. The percentage of children who report watching excessive amounts of television declines with age, as indicated in Figure SD 1.5. Among 9-year-olds, almost one-fifth (19 percent) reported watching six or more hours of television each day in 1994. Among 13-year-old students, 13 percent watched six or more hours of television. Among 17-year-olds, only 8 percent watched this amount of television each day. For all three age groups, the percentage of students spending six or more hours a day watching television increased between 1982 and 1986, and then declined through 1994.

Differences by Gender. In general, larger proportions of boys than girls are watching television for long periods of time. This gender difference is particularly notable among younger students (see Table SD 1.5.A). In 1994, 23 percent of 9-year-old boys watched television for six or more hours per day, compared to 16 percent of girls in that age group.

Differences by Race and Ethnicity.5 For each age group and for each time point of assessment, larger proportions of black students watch television for six or more hours per day than do either white or Hispanic students. For example, among 9-year-old students, 40 percent of black students, compared to only 14 percent of white students, and 22 percent of Hispanic students reported watching television six or more hours per day during 1994 (see Table SD 1.5.A).

Differences by Type of School. In general, smaller percentages of children and adolescents who attend private school spend six or more hours per day watching television, than do students who attend public school, although the differences are usually not very large (see Tables SD 1.5.A, SD 1.5.B, and SD 1.5.C).

Differences by Parents Educational Level. Childrens television viewing habits also vary by parents educational level. In general, as parents educational levels increase, the percentages of children watching excessive amounts of television declines. In 1994, 23 percent of 13-year-olds whose parents had less than a high school education were watching six or more hours of television per day, compared to 17 percent of students with parents who graduated from high school, and 9 percent of students whose parents graduated from college (see Table SD 1.5.B). A similar pattern is evident for 17-year-olds (see Table SD 1.5.C).
 

Figure SD 1.5  
Percentage of Students Who Watch Six or More Hours of Television per Day, by Age, 1982-1994 

SD1_5.GIF

Source: National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), 1994 Trend Assessment and unpublished Trend Almanacs, 1978-1990.
 
 

Table SD 1.5.A 
Percentage of 9-Year-Old Students Who Watch Six or More Hours of Television per Day, by Gender, Race/Ethnicity, and Type of School: 1982-1994

               
     
1982
1986
1990
1992
1994
     
 
 
 
 
 
Total
26
31
23
19
19
  Gender
    Male
30
34
27
22
23
    Female
23
27
20
17
16
  Race/Ethnicity
    White, non-Hispanic
23
26
18
14
14
    Black, non-Hispanic
43
53
47
41
40
    Hispanic
28
33
26
25
22
  Type of School
    Public
27
32
24
21
19
    Private
21
24
18
5
11
               
Note: Parents education is not reported at age 9 because approximately one third of these students did not know their parents education level.  

Source: National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), 1994 Trend Assessment; and unpublished Trend Almanacs, 1978-1990.

 
 

Table SD 1.5.B  
Percentage of 13-Year-Old Students Who Watch Six or More Hours of Television per Day, by Gender, Race/Ethnicity, Type of School, and Parents Highest Level of Education: 1982-1994

     
1982
1986
1990
1992
1994
     
 
 
 
 
 
Total
16
20
17
13
13
  Gender
    Male
18
21
18
14
15
    Female
15
19
15
11
12
  Race/Ethnicity
    White, non-Hispanic
13
17
12
8
8
    Black, non-Hispanic
32
40
35
31
35
    Hispanic
19
21
18
19
19
  Type of School
    Public
17
20
17
14
14
    Private
13
(*)
11
6
4
  Parents Highest Level of 
  Education
    Less than high school
23
32
24
21
23
    Graduate high school
18
22
19
16
17
    More than high school
13
18
12
9
13
    Graduated college
12
15
13
9
9
               
*Too few observations for a reliable estimate.  

Source: National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), 1994 Trend Assessment; and unpublished Trend Almanacs, 1978-1990.

 
 

Table SD 1.5.C 
Percentage of 17-Year-Old Students Who Watch Six or More Hours of Television 
per Day by Gender, Race/Ethnicity, Type of School, and Parents Highest Level of Education: 1978-1994

                 
     
1978
1982
1986
1990
1992
1994
     
 
 
 
 
 
 
                 
Total
5
6
9
9
7
8
  Gender
    Male
5
7
10
9
7
10
    Female
5
6
8
8
7
7
                 
  Race/Ethnicity
    White, non-Hispanic
4
5
6
6
4
5
    Black, non-Hispanic
13
14
22
23
21
24
    Hispanic
7
6
12
8
6
9
                 
  Type of School
    Public
5
7
9
9
7
8
    Private
4
3
(*)
(*)
3
3
                 
  Parents Highest Level  
of Education
 
    Less than high school
8
10
17
11
10
14
    Graduate high school
5
8
10
11
10
12
    More than high school
4
4
9
8
5
8
    Graduated college
3
4
4
5
5
5
                 
*Too few observations for a reliable estimate.  

Source: National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), 1994 Trend Assessment; and unpublished Trend Almanacs, 1978-1990.

 

4 U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics (1993). Youth Indicators 1993: Trends in the well-being of American youth. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office.

5 Estimates for whites and blacks exclude Hispanics of those races.
 
 

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