School problems due to frequent use of computers

Children and adolescents with high media consumption are more likely to suffer from school problems

Increased computer and television consumption leads to poor school grades and social problems for many students. This is reported by a current observational study by DAK Gesundheit in cooperation with the University of Lüneburg. According to the results, one in five school-age teenagers now spends more than six hours a day on the PC or in front of the television. According to the researchers' conclusion, the frequent screen time often leads to school problems. However, frequent media consumption has no impact on social life.

According to a study by the DAK and scientists from the Leuphana University in Lüneburg, numerous students spend too much time on the computer or in front of the television. Almost every fifth adolescent spends more than 6 hours a day on the computer or TV. Those who spend a lot of time surfing the Internet or playing computer games report significantly more dissatisfied school boards and reluctance than students who overall showed less media consumption. Young people between 15 and 16 years of age are particularly affected. Here, the proportion of intensive users was 23 percent.

According to the cash register, "the results indicate that excessive media consumption is more likely to lead to school problems," as DAK spokesman Cornelius Erbe explained. The researchers do not rule out that a “reverse mode of action” is also possible. "Those who have difficulties at school may try to distract themselves with high media consumption."

Social life continues despite the PC or television
Are the intensive computer users lonely, as is often assumed? Media consumption probably has no negative consequences for social life. Young people who sit in front of the PC for many hours even meet with friends and acquaintances more often than others. Social networks such as Facebook and Co encourage meeting people and media are often shared in their free time. Many young people meet to play computer games or watch TV series or films together. For example, over 90 percent of those surveyed said they had four or more friends. 61 percent of intensive users said they would meet friends three or more times a week. For the few users, it was only 47 percent for comparison. According to the study data, however, active exercise, organized leisure activities or sport are rather neglected when the media is used frequently.

The quota of intensive users among primary and junior high school students is particularly high. 39 percent of the group said they watched television for more than three hours a day. Pupils in the upper grades (high schools) stated that an average of 17 percent spent more than three hours in the media.

Responsible use of the Internet
Graduate psychologist Ina Cramer from the Leuphana University of Lüneburg said that for "children and adolescents, the use of media and social networks has become an important part of their lives". In most cases, dealing with the Internet is much more responsible than is generally assumed. If the frequent use of the Internet leads to conspicuous behavior and school performance suffers, parents should talk to their child and look for compromises. In order to know what the children and adolescents are concerned with in their everyday life, “parents should deal with the topic of new media,” says social worker Gritli Bertram.

Teachers need more media literacy
According to the psychologist, schools should not close their eyes either. They are particularly important when it comes to preventing risky media behavior. For this reason, according to the expert, educators and teachers should be trained in "teaching media skills". "The critical reflection of media, its functions and its content will play an important role in the future."

The present study "Media Consumption by Schoolchildren" was created as part of the "Develop healthy school together" initiative. The study lasted a total of three years and was carried out in different schools. The survey study in May 2008, May 2009 and May 2010 was attended by almost 6,000 students and almost 1,300 teachers from nine secondary, secondary and regional schools, three comprehensive schools, seven high schools and six vocational schools. (sb)

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Image: Katharina Bregulla /

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