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Turn On, Tune Out – Could TV Make Children’s Ideas Less Original?

Stafforshire University research finds that children who play with books and jigsaws are more creatively inspired than telly-watchers

  • Turn On, Tune Out – Could TV Make Children’s Ideas Less Original?

Watching TV won’t blunt young children’s creativity – but it may make their ideas less original.

That’s the headline finding from a study involving 60 3-year-olds recently carried out at Staffordshire University’s Children’s Lab. According to psychology lecturer Dr Sarah Rose, “We were looking at the immediate impact of television on children’s creativity. We compared children who watched slow and fast paced episodes of Postman Pat with children who were left to play with books and jigsaws. We then tested the children for the numbers of creative ideas and the originality of those ideas”

“While there was very little impact of TV on the number of creative ideas generated, there was clear evidence that the children came up with less original ideas immediately after watching television although these effects seemed to disappear after a short time. Over time if children are less creative in their play, this could negatively impact their development.”

It’s thought that the study’s findings may be helpful for early years educators and parents – as well as producers of children’s television – given the relative lack of research into the effects of TV on young children’s development.

Dr Rose further noted that, “There is a belief that the more slow-paced programmes are more educational, but our findings don’t support this. Since the study we have developed better ways of measuring creativity in young children and we plan to repeat the study to test the effects of more fantastical programmes like Spongebob Squarepants. This will help us understand what type of television is having what type of effects.”

Dr Rose is currently looking for participants willing to take part in a follow-up study. Parents of 3-year-olds living in the Staffordshire area interested in volunteering should email childrenslab@staffs.ac.uk

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