Yakup Ãetin, Robert B. Lull, Mehmet ÃelikbaÅ, Brad J. Bushman
Background: Humans are hard-wired to pay attention to violent and sexual cues. Because humans have limited attention capacity, attention allocated to violent and sexual cues decreases attention that can be allocated to encoding important information in school. This study examined the effects of exposure to violent and sexual media on general school performance and Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) scores in Turkish youth. Methods: The relationship between exposure to violent and sexual media on school performance was assessed in a sample of 1545 Turkish adolescents. Then, we compared the TOEFL scores of 143 Turkish boys aged 14 to 18 divided in 71 living in dormitories in which consumption of media was strictly regulated and 72 living at home. Results: A significant negative relationship was found between exposure to violent/sexual media and school success. The effects remained significant even after controlling for the total amount of media exposure. In addition, boys living in the dormitory in which consumption of media was strictly regulated outscored those living at home on the TOEFL post-test immediately after the end of the study, and on a delayed post-test one week later. Conclusions: Because there was no difference between boys living at home and those living in a dormitory on the pre-test, the post-test and delayed post-test differences cannot be attributed to initial differences in English language proficiency. These results suggest that exposure to violent and sexual media impairs adolescent school performance and foreign language memory.