Does Internet Entertainment Reduce the Cognitive Ability of Children? Evidence from the China Education Panel Survey

Publication Name

Behavioral Sciences


Internet technology has been assimilated into children’s educational system on an in-depth level. In particular, the number of children who use the internet for entertainment has been rapidly increasing. However, there has been a debate as to whether internet entertainment can have a detrimental impact on children’s cognitive ability. This paper investigates the effect of internet entertainment on the cognitive ability of children in the Chinese context. The results show no evidence of associations between internet entertainment and children’s cognitive ability. However, the additional analysis provides preliminary evidence suggesting that internet entertainment can be beneficial to children who use it for entertainment only on weekends but detrimental for those who spend leisure time online daily. In addition, the findings are robust in a variety of sensitivity tests. We also examine whether the effects of internet entertainment on children’s cognitive ability in different family environments are heterogeneous. The findings suggest that parents’ internet habits, parents’ internet supervision, parental relationship, family education and living area play a moderating role in the relationship between internet entertainment and children’s cognitive ability. This study offers useful insights into the current global debate on the nexus between internet entertainment and children’s cognitive ability and also provides suggestions for parents, children, regulators and policymakers.

Open Access Status

This publication may be available as open access





Article Number


Funding Number


Funding Sponsor

Beijing Social Science Fund



Link to publisher version (DOI)