For decades, gifted education researchers have been lamenting that the U.S. is undergoing a “quiet crisis” regarding the education of its most academically talented students. The situation is viewed as a crisis because many talented students aren’t being appropriately challenged and many parents, educators and education experts believe their talents are being wasted. The crisis is considered quiet because hardly anyone else has been paying attention to it.
At the same time, the stereotype of students in Asia spending all their time studying has been consistently communicated. However, like many stereotypes, this belief is based on anecdotes and not on data. Little data has been reported actually analyzing how academically talented students (from any country) spend their time. A recent study sought to change this by analyzing how much time academically talented seventh grade students from the U.S. and India spend on academics, extracurricular activities, using electronics, and sleeping. This post focuses specifically on how much time these academically talented students spend using electronics.
Warning parents of potential developmental and health risks, The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests that they “Limit children’s total media time (with entertainment media) to no more than 1 to 2 hours of quality programming per day.” However, as of 2010, youth in the U.S. reported spending roughly 7.5 hours a day using electronics.
Gifted students spend less time on using electronics as a whole. A recent study by Duke TIP found that academically talented students in the U.S. reported using electronics (watching TV, using the Internet, using social media, on the phone, playing video games, listening to music) roughly 17 hours each week and about 15 hours each weekend. As a comparison, academically talented students in India reported using electronics about 9.5 hours each week and about 8 hours each weekend. The authors noted that the gap between electronics use in the U.S. and India was roughly equal to the gap in time the groups reported spending on academics, i.e., India students spent less time using electronics and devoted more time to academics.
Although some electronics use, such as watching TV, may not be associated with positive outcomes, not all electronics use is necessarily negative. For example, using the internet to research an assignment can be academically beneficial. As such, it is important to remember that, if used appropriately, many electronics activities can be beneficial and help your child develop his or her talents.