Monday, September 8, 2008

Let your children watch television and surf the internet

But University of Chicago Graduate School of Business economists Matthew Gentzkow and Jesse Shapiro aren't sure that TV has been all that bad for kids. In a paper published in the Quarterly Journal of Economics this year, they presented a series of analyses that showed that the advent of television might actually have had a positive effect on children's cognitive ability.

The two are part of a tight-knit group of young economists using statistical techniques to examine how television affects society. The group's research suggests TV enabled an earlier generation of American children in non-English-speaking households to do better in school, helped rural Indian women to become more independent and contributed to lowering Brazil's fertility rate.

Mr. Gentzkow, who is 33 and doesn't own a TV set, says that figuring out how television influences children is far from straightforward.

"What are the reasons why some kids watch six hours of TV a day and some kids watch none?" he asks. "Clearly it has to do with their parents and what kind of parenting they're doing; it has to do with how smart they are and how much they like doing other things like reading; it has to do with what socioeconomic resources they have. Do they have a nanny who's taking them to the museum every day versus sitting home alone?"

-Economists Probe the Data on Television Watching And Find It's Not All Bad; Better Test Scores?

At age 26, Jesse Shapiro practices accessible economics. ‘I’m Happy to Do That.’

Economists Look at How TV Affects Time Use