According to a new study by Cambridge University, 15 year olds who spend an additional hour watching TV, surfing the web or playing computer screens showed a marked reduction in ability at GSCE level at 16.
In a paper published by the Journal of Behavioural nutrition and physical activity, researchers also found that an additional hour of study or reading improved academic success.
Researchers also analysed whether a link existed between academic success and physical activity. No such link was found.
A team of researchers looked at 845 secondary school children measuring levels of activity and sedentary behaviour at age 14.5 then comparing to their attainment at gcse the next year.
Researchers measured objective levels of activity and time spent sitting as well as asking pupils how long they spent on screens.
The team found that screen time was related to achievement at GCSE. Each additional hour spent on a screen led to 9.3 less points at GCSE level, the equivalent of two grades in a subject (i.e., a B to a D). Two extra hours was seen to lower points by 18.
The study found that even if students did a lot of reading, screen time still affected achievement. Of all the screen activities, TV watching was the most detrimental.
Dr Esther van Sluijs, from CEDAR:
“We believe that programmes aimed at reducing screen time could have important benefits for teenagers’ 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.”