Some Children Under Some Conditions: TV and the High Potential Kid

Robert Abelman

This monograph examines the relationship between intellectually gifted children and television. It begins by offering generally accepted facts about gifted children, as identified in the special education and educational psychology literature. The questions this information raises with regard to television viewing and its potential effects are then presented and research-grounded answers, extracted from the most recent mass communication literature, are provided.

More specifically, the text explores how intellectual giftedness impacts on: (1) Television viewing habits; (2) The processing of television information; (3) Children’s perceptions of reality of programming and advertising; and (4) The nature of parental mediation of viewing. In addition, the monograph examines: (5) The portrayal of gifted children in primetime programming; (6) Federal legislation impacting children’s educational programming; and (7) The use of television in the special education classroom. Findings suggest that parents and educators of gifted children should consider television as a potentially positive and negative force in their children’s lives. This is particularly so during preschool and early adolescence, when gifted children are arguably the most vulnerable and susceptible to often inaccurate, inappropriate or highly persuasive televised portrayals. A prescription for caregivers on how to best incorporate research findings into practical in-home and in-school activities, practices, and policies is extended.


Abelman, R. (1992). Some children under some conditions: TV and the high potential kid (RBDM9206). Storrs: University of Connecticut, The National Research Center on the Gifted and Talented.

Some Children Under Some Conditions: TV and the High Potential Kid
Robert Abelman


  1. Young gifted children spend significantly more hours in front of the television set than their same-age peers, but viewing does not necessarily warrant parental concern or dramatic time reductions or limitations.
  2. Parents are encouraged to make sure that the programming being watched matches their child’s capability to follow story line and plot development and is sufficiently challenging.
  3. Younger children should avoid program-length commercials.
  4. Pay-TV (cable, video rentals) currently provides the most reliable supply of quality educational, informational, and entertaining children’s programs.
  5. Primetime commercial television offers inadequate and inappropriate role models for gifted education.
  6. The most effective forms of parental mediation of television are purposeful program selection and co-viewing with a child.
  7. In accordance with the Children’s Television Act of 1990, parents can and should become involved in influencing the quality and quantity of local children’s programming.
  8. Television in the classroom has a place in gifted education.