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Do Different Degrees of Media Exposure Have Positive or Negative Effects on the Academic Work of Students, Ages Ten to Fourteen? Kaitlyn Lang, Jennifer Miller, Amanda Venturi CUNY Honors College at the College of Staten Island Advisor: Professor Cindy Wong, Media Culture Department We present a survey on the impact of media exposure to the academic life of children, ages ten to fourteen. Technology is always advancing and it affects all of us as New Yorkers, but it particularly affects young people in New York who seek entertainment through media, such as television and the Internet. We have tested whether different degrees of media exposure have positive or negative effects on childrens’ academia, all of whom live in white, middle-class, suburban communities. Our study differs from those that have been done in the past because our results show that boys and girls of this particular age group meet the same academic standards, and that there is in fact no relationship between the amount of media that they indulge in on a regular basis and their academic standing in school. In fact, those students who spent limited time watching television or using the Internet did not achieve better grades than those who spent hours each day consumed in media. In the article entitled, “Television Viewing and Academic Achievement Revisited”, William P. Austin and Franklin T. Thompson discuss some of the research that has been done in the past twenty-five years regarding television’s effects on childrens’ academics. J. J. Patrick asserted that high grades in social studies were associated with limited amount of television viewing, while S. J. Caldas and C. Bankston stated that students who watched informational programming, such as the nightly news or history documentaries, would be more likely to increase their skills in school than children who watched cartoons, music videos and other low informational content programming (194). The research of the past two and half decades points to television as a potential threat to the academia world because television viewing is supposedly taking the place of educational activities, such as reading. Researchers feel that teachers should try and incorporate television into their classroom setting to try and bridge the gap that lies between school and students, and that parents should begin monitoring the content of what their children watch on a regular basis. Austin and Thompson mention that there are problems that exist in researching the effects of television because the issues of social class and race can potentially play a role in how a student performs in school (198). Based on this idea, we limited the population sample of our study to Staten Island children, who live in white, middle-class communities. Our intention was to further prove theories that excessive indulgence in media does in fact have an impact on the schoolwork of boys and girls. We made the decision to survey children ranging in age from ten to fourteen because we assumed that these were the children who were most impressionable and had not yet grew into habitual study habits. However, television is not the only form of media prevalent in the 21 st century and we were also interested to learn whether extreme use of the Internet has similar repercussions. 1. 2. We distributed a total of 260 surveys to I. S. 24, an intermediate school located in Great Kills, and P. S. 53, an elementary school in Bay Terrace. Both of these schools have a predominantly white population (86. 5% of I. S. 24 and 86. 2% of P. S. 53), and of the 260 that we provided we were able to use 177 in our study. The surveys asked questions about the amount of hours spent daily watching television, using the Internet and doing homework and/or studying. The children were asked to self report their grades in the four subject areas of history, math, English and science, and the question of whether or not they used different forms of media while doing schoolwork was also asked. Pearson’s Correlation N= Number of participants X = the sum of the scores on variable X Of the 100 boys that were surveyed, the averages were as follows: X^2 = the sum of the squared scores on X Homework: 1 hour 4 minutes a day ( X)^2= the square of the sum of the scores Online: 1 hour 43 minutes a day Television: 3 hours 11 minutes a day Y= the sum of the scores on variable Y Overall History: 86 Overall Math: 88 Y^2 = the sum of the squared scores on Y Overall English: 87 Overall Science: 87 ( Y) ^2= the square of the sum of the scores Of the 77 girls that were surveyed, the averages were as follows: Homework: 1 hour 22 minutes a day Online: 1 hour 56 minutes a day Television: 2 hours 53 minutes a day Overall History: 86 Overall Math: 89 Overall English: 90 Overall Science: 86 Our results differ from the research we read about in Thompson and Austin’s article for a few reasons. Other than finding no correlation between media exposure and grades, they wrote of a discovery that achievement in social studies was associated with “limited television viewing”. With the average amount of television being watched in our study to be approximately three hours, we consider “limited viewing” to be one hour or less. Of the boys surveyed, 12 watched one hour or less of television a day and only 5 of these 12 excelled in social studies at 90 or above. Eighteen girls watched one hour or less of television a day and only 4 of these 18 achieved the same standard in social studies. Based on these numbers, it is clear that not everyone who watches limited amounts of television achieves in the given area of social studies. The boys and girls surveyed showed many similarities in their results. Of the girls were surveyed, only 21% answered that they do their schoolwork without distractions. Of the remaining 79%, 21% claim that they do their homework while listening to music, and the form of media that showed the second largest percent was television, music and computer at 19%. The boys’ numbers were slightly different; 27% of boys answered that they do their schoolwork without distractions, and of the remaining 73%, 20% claim that they do their homework while indulging in television, music and computer and music was the second largest percent at 13%. With all of the requested data provided by the students, Pearson correlation was used to determine whethere was a relationship between media usage and grades in school. Pearson product-moment correlation coefficient is defined as a type of correlation coefficient used with interval and ratio scale data. In addition to providing information between two variables, the Pearson product-moment correlation coefficient indicates the direction (positive or negative) of the relationship (Cozby, 373. ) Interesting Facts: v. Full House was one of the most popular shows among girls of this age group, with 22% listing it as one of their favorites, 26% listed the MTV network with shows such as Pimp My Ride, TRL and Punk’d, and 27% listed the Disney Channel with shows such as Lizzie Mc. Guire, That’s So Raven and Boy Meets World v. There was no one single television show mentioned among the majority of the boys, 18% listed MTV, while 25% listed Nickelodeon with shows such as Spongebob Squarepants, Fairly Oddparents and Full House v. The most frequently visited websites among both boys and girls were video game websites such as cheatplanet. com, game spy. com and cheatcc. com v. Both boys and girls have a love affair with ebaumsworld. com, which is a variety site that offers jokes and entertainment, as well as videos and music. XY= each participant’s X score multiplied by their Y score; then all of these values are added together. Girls: X= Media Average Y=Academic Overall Average XY= (Media Average)(Academic Overall Average) N= 77 X = 251. 25 X^2 = 1011. 06 ( X)^2= 63126. 5625 XY= 22, 011. 875 r= Y= 6760 Y^2 = 596, 525 ( Y)^2 = 45, 697, 600 77 (22, 011. 875) – (251. 25) (6760) ¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯ √ 77 (1011. 06) – 63, 126. 5625 * √ 77 (596, 525) – 45, 697, 600 r = -. 060126 In conclusion we can state there is no relationship between how much media girls watch and what grades they acquire in school since the correlation is so low. (A high correlation would be close to 1 or -1. ) Boys: N= 100 X = 342. 75 X^2 = 1521. 0625 ( X)^2 = 117, 477. 5625 XY= 29, 392. 5 r= Y= 8685 Y^2 = 760, 525 ( Y)^2 = 75, 429, 225 100 (29, 392. 5) – (342. 75) (8685) ¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯ √ 100 (1521. 0625) – 117, 477. 5625 * √ 100(760, 525) – 75, 439, 225 r = -. 25548 In conclusion we can state there is no relationship between how much media boys watch and what grades they acquire in school since the correlation is so low. (A high correlation would be close to 1 or -1. ) However, the boys did have a stronger correlation than the girls did, but it was not significant. References Austin, William P. , Franklin T. Thompson. “Television Viewing and Academic Achievement Revisited. ” Education, Fall 2003, Vol. 124 Issue 1: 194 -202. Cozby, Paul C. Methods in Behavioral Research 8 th Edition. New York, New York: Mc. Graw Hill Companies, 2004. Acknowledgements Special Thanks to Ms. Annette Esposito, Principal of P. S. 53, and Ms. Rosemarie O’Neill, Principal of I. S. 24, for allowing the students of their school to participate in this project. Also, thank you to Mrs. Deirdre Armitage of the Discovery Institute at the College of Staten Island, for her time and help, as well as Professor Cindy Wong, for her guidance.