Children, Teens, and Entertainment Media: The View from the Classroom

A Common Sense Research Study
November 1, 2012

Many teachers think their students’ use of entertainment media has hurt their academic performance.

When asked about a range of specific academic skills, teachers are much more likely to say entertainment media have hurt rather than helped those skills. (Entertainment media was defined as the TV shows, music, video games, texting, iPods, cell phone games, social networking sites, apps, computer programs, online videos, and websites students use for fun.)

The biggest problem area for teachers is students’ attention span, with 71% saying saying entertainment media use has hurt students either “a lot” (34%) or “somewhat” (37%) in that area.

Another key problem area for teachers is students’ writing skills. Nearly six in 10 (58%) teachers say their students’ use of entertainment media (including texting) has hurt their writing skills “a lot” (19%) or “somewhat” (39%).

Many teachers think students spend so much time with media that they neglect their homework and aren’t prepared in class. Just under half (48%) say entertainment media use has hurt the quality of students’ homework “a lot” (15%) or “somewhat” (33%).

Teachers also say that entertainment media has hurt students “a lot” or “somewhat” in their ability to communicate face to face (59%) and their critical thinking (42%).

There were no statistically significant differences between veteran teachers (more than 15 years of experience) and those who are new to the job (less than 5 years). Nor were there differences between teachers who describe themselves as “tech savvy” and those who admit to being “uncomfortable” with new technologies.