It has been found that extended visual media usage could seriously harm the GCSE results of students.
Those who are sixteen years of age and in the prime of their youth had better watch out. Each extra hour spent watching television, surfing the Internet or playing video games is a waste of time.
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It has led to a worsening of grades in the GCSE exams. The University of Cambridge published these results in a recent study. Meanwhile, those students who read books or did their homework were more likely to do better in their GCSE exams.
There was one factor that had no effect on the level of academic performance. And that was physical exertion whether in sports or in the form of exercise.
While physical exercise is a factor in burgeoning health and well-being, it seems to have little to no link with academic achievement. And while a sedentary lifestyle may lead to worsening health and vital statistics, it bears no influence on academic performance.
More than 800 pupils were studied. They had an average age of 14.5 years. Each single hour spent idling in front of the boob tube or computer screen (or handling an Xbox) led to 9.3 fewer points on their GSCE examinations.
The deleterious effects of these vacant and vapid activities were not offset by doing productive and constructive tasks instead. They had to be given up entirely if students wanted to excel.
No link was found between strenuous activity and academic excellence. But another study had already proven that vigorous exercise sharpens the mind and lends greater focus to the cognitive functions of pupils. Yet engaging in sports, running or bodybuilding does not adversely affect the study life of budding students.
"Spending more time in front of a screen appears to be linked to a poorer performance at GCSE," says first author Dr Kirsten Corder from the Centre for Diet and Activity Research (CEDAR) in the MRC Epidemiology Unit at the University of Cambridge.
"We only measured this behaviour in Year 10, but this is likely to be a reliable snapshot of participants' usual behaviour, so we can reasonably suggest that screen time may be damaging to a teenager' grades. Further research is needed to confirm this effect conclusively, but parents who are concerned about their child's GCSE grade might consider limiting his or her screen time."
Of the detrimental activities, television viewing ranked as the worst choice. The students were tracked as regards their behavioral repertoire over a specific period of time. The goal was to see which activities were harmful to studiousness and which were beneficial for the IQ.
It was conclusive. TV viewing was the worst of the worst. It literally turned the brain to mush. As one sat down zonked out before the idiot box, the result was nothing but a lot of passive consumption.
Since reading and doing homework involved the exercise of important skills, they were a far cry from staring endlessly at the television screen.
Dr Esther van Sluijs, also from CEDAR, adds: "We believe that programmes aimed at reducing screen time could have important benefits for teenager' exam grades, as well as their health. It is also encouraging that our results show that greater physical activity does not negatively affect exam results. As physical activity has many other benefits, efforts to promote physical activity throughout the day should still be a public health priority."
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The study published today in the open access International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity.