Tag Archives: Television and children

Television cannot substitute for quality childcare

23 Apr

Your toddler not only needs food for their body and appropriate physical activity, but you need to nourish their mind and spirit as well.

There are several good articles which explain why you do not want your toddler parked in front of a television several hours each day. Robin Elise Weiss, LCCE has a very good explanation of how television can be used as a resource by distinguishing between television watching and targeting viewing of specific programs designed to enhance learning. In Should Babies and Toddlers Watch Television? Weiss comments about the effects of young children and television. MSNBC was reporting about toddlers and television in 2004.

In the MSNBC report, Watching TV May Hurt Toddlers’ Attention Spans the following comments were made:

Researchers have found that every hour preschoolers watch television each day boosts their chances — by about 10 percent — of developing attention deficit problems later in life.

The findings back up previous research showing that television can shorten attention spans and support American Academy of Pediatrics recommendations that youngsters under age 2 not watch television.

The truth is there are lots of reasons for children not to watch television. Other studies have shown it to be associated with obesity and aggressiveness” too, said lead author Dr. Dimitri Christakis, a researcher at Children’s Hospital and Regional Medical Center in Seattle.

The issue is whether prolonged television watching affects a child’s brain development.

Nancy Shute is reports in the US News article, TV Watching Is Bad for Babies’ Brains

Babies who watch TV are more likely to have delayed cognitive development and language at 14 months, especially if they’re watching programs intended for adults and older children. We probably knew that 24 and Grey’s Anatomy don’t really qualify as educational content, but it’s surprising that TV-watching made a difference at such a tender age.

Babies who watched 60 minutes of TV daily had developmental scores one-third lower at 14 months than babies who weren’t watching that much TV. Though their developmental scores were still in the normal range, the discrepancy may be due to the fact that when kids and parents are watching TV, they’re missing out on talking, playing, and interactions that are essential to learning and development.

This new study, which appeared in the Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine, followed 259 lower-income families in New York, most of whom spoke Spanish as their primary language at home. Other studies examining higher-income families have also come to the same conclusion: TV watching not only isn’t educational, but it seems to stunt babies’ development.

Background television is also not good for the development of a child.

Even television in the background can be harmful for kids. Alexandra Sifferlin writes in the Time article, TV On in the Background? It’s Still Bad for Kids:

Too much television can be detrimental for kids’ development, even when they’re not plopped directly in front of the screen. And your kids might be getting more exposure to such background TV than you think, a new study finds.

The researchers found that the average American kid was exposed to 232.2 minutes of background television per day — when the TV was on, but the child was engaged in another activity. Younger children and African-America children were exposed to the most background television on average.

We were ready and willing to accept that the exposure would be high, but we were kind of shocked at how high it really was,” says study author Matthew Lapierre, a doctoral candidate and lecturer at the University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg School for Communication. “The fact that kids are exposed to about four hours on average per day definitely knocked us back on our heels a bit…”

Previous research has found that exposure to background television is linked to lower attention spans, fewer and lower-quality parent-child interactions and reduced performance in cognitive tasks, the authors said in the study.

The current findings came from data gathered in a nationally representative telephone survey of 1,454 American parents with at least one child between the ages of 8 months and 8 years. The parents were asked about how often their TV was on when no one was watching and whether their child had a TV in their bedroom.

For every minute of television to which children are directly exposed, there are an additional 3 minutes of indirect exposure, making background exposure a much greater proportion of time in a young child’s day,” the authors say in the study.

What they found even more concerning was that kids under 2 and African-American children are exposed to 42% and 45% more background TV, respectively, than the average child.
http://healthland.time.com/2012/04/20/tv-on-in-the-background-its-still-bad-for-kids/#ixzz1svpJx5S1

Education Week also reports on the effects of background television.

Sarah D. Sparks reports in the Education Week article, Is Television the New Secondhand Smoke?

Prior research suggests background television can have a “chronic disruptive impact on very young children’s behavior.” Studies have linked background television to less focused play among toddlers, poorer parent-child interaction, and interference with older students’ ability to do homework.

“For every minute of television to which children are directly exposed, there are an
additional 3 minutes of indirect exposure, making background exposure a much greater
proportion of time in a young child’s day,” the study noted.

“Considering the accumulating evidence regarding the impact that background television exposure has on young children, we were rather floored about the sheer scale of children’s exposure with just under 4 hours of exposure each day,” Lapierre said in a statement on the study. Lapierre and his fellow researchers recommended that parents, teachers and early childcare providers turn off televisions when no one is watching a particular program and that parents prevent children from keeping a television in their rooms.

It’s easy to think about this as just one more alarm about how our modern media environment is ruining our kids. Yet the more interesting take-away from this field of research is how critical it is for children to learn actively and socially. Children learn from adults speaking to, with and around them, and from actively engaging with their world.

Anything that limits or distracts from that active interaction can be a problem, but not an insurmountable one. For example, researchers at the University of Washington’s Learning in Formal and Informal Environments, or LIFE, Center, is doing some fascinating work on the potential benefits of interactive media. There’s also been some interesting work on using video conferencing to read with children.

http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/inside-school-research/2012/04/is_television_the_new_secondha.html?intc=es

If watching television is not an appropriate activity for toddlers, then what are appropriate activities? The University of Illinois Extension has a good list of Age-Based Activities For Toddlers

See, How to Have a Happier, Healthier, Smarter Baby

Parents must interact with their children and read to them. Television is not a parental substitute.

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©