Recently in my English class, we were assigned a project in which we have to think of something impossible to do, figure out how to do it, and do it. In terms of this assignment, the word impossible does not necessarily have to be taken literally; in fact, each member of our class has to think about their own personal strengths and weaknesses and think of something unique to them. Although I know this is not impossible to do, I decided to give up Netflix for three weeks because I find it takes up a lot of my time. While this is surely not impossible for me to do, I decided to take the challenge because it would help me focus more on my schoolwork. In the past few days, I have focused more on my schoolwork and found other pastimes instead of sitting in front of the TV. I wanted to learn if other people’s productivity is affected like mine is by Netflix.
A fairly recent NPR article discusses a study performed by a doctoral student at the University of Texas. This experiment studies the effect of frequent television viewing on mental health. EurekAlert! writes about the same study, and includes more about the experimental design. There is not much of an experimental design. It is merely a report on people’s lives in order to look for correlations between the two variables. The participants had to merely answer questions about their habits and feelings, including how often they watch TV and how happy they are.
In class, we have discussed the difficulty of measuring happiness since it is a self-reported variable and not a simple fact. With this poor experimental design, it is simple for the data to be skewed by avoiding questions that could be difficult to answer or try to maintain a happy image of themselves.
New York University performed a study in order to see the affects of television on grades and study habits. This experiment had a good design because there was a large group of 500 students tested. The teenagers were then split into two groups: one group watched little or no television and the other group watched television frequently. Each group consisted of both boys and girls and the ages were 15-17 years old. In the end, the group with the lower television viewing performed better in various categories over the group who watched more television. This supports the researcher’s initial hypothesis that television does affect schoolwork.
In terms of a college student, I imagine these results would be very different. Specifically, since we have more time and independence, we are not very good at time management, and the majority of students would rather be watching their favorite show that doing their homework or studying for the next exam. In the next few weeks, I hope that I will be able to manage my time better since I am not going to watch television.