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TV and Reading

Des Walsh

'The more TV that children watch, the worse they will do at school, particularly when it comes to reading.' That is one popular belief. Another is that, for children who have difficulty with reading, watching television keeps them away from their books, and therefore it is a counterproductive activity. These beliefs rest on the 'commonsense' view that television requires very little in the way of reading, (even less than comics) and it is likely to supplant reading more and more as a leisure time activity, especially for the poor reader.
Many teachers as reported by Epstein (1974) evidently share this view. They believe that television reduces the child's time for reading and homework, and also that it requires less effort from him or her to listen to 'talking heads' than it does to get the message from print. And further, that this is especially so for the child who already finds reading a laborious frustrating task. This is not the only negative influence which it is claimed television can have on school attainment. T.V. offers faulty models of articulation, syntax and grammar, usually wrapped together in a special situational and entertaining kind of jargon.
Are these popular beliefs, teacher reports, and general assumptions only too true? Is the news all bad?

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