The goal of this research was to study whether a fast-paced television show immediately influences preschool-aged children's executive function (eg, self-regulation, working memory).
Sixty 4-year-olds were randomly assigned to watch a fast-paced television cartoon or an educational cartoon or draw for 9 minutes. They were then given 4 tasks tapping executive function, including the classic delay-of-gratification and Tower of Hanoi tasks. Parents completed surveys regarding television viewing and child's attention.
Children who watched the fast-paced television cartoon performed significantly worse on the executive function tasks than children in the other 2 groups when controlling for child attention, age, and television exposure.
Just 9 minutes of viewing a fast-paced television cartoon had immediate negative effects on 4-year-olds' executive function. Parents should be aware that fast-paced television shows could at least temporarily impair young children's executive function.