"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."
Dr. Sarah Rose, Lecturer in Developmental Psychology
Watching TV for short periods does not impact on the number of creative ideas that young children come up with.
However the research, conducted with 3 year olds at Staffordshire University, does reveal that 15 minutes of children’s television temporarily reduces the originality of the ideas they come up with.
Findings from the study of 60 children carried out by psychology lecturer Dr. Sarah Rose at the University's dedicated Children's Lab were shared at the British Psychological Developmental Conference in Belfast last week.
Sarah said: “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.”
The new research is potentially useful to producers of children's television, early years' educators and parents as little research has been carried out on the development effects of television on young children.
She added: “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.”
Sarah Rose is appealing for willing participants in the new study – parents of 3 year olds living locally in Staffordshire – to email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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