Turn Off TV For Babies Under Two
In a report released on Tuesday, October 18th, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) strongly suggested that parents limit the amount of time their under-age-two children spend in front of the television. While acknowledging that TV and computer screens are ubiquitous in today's media-saturated society, the AAP nevertheless encouraged parents to reduce their children's TV time.
Although there are many so-called "educational" videos available today for babies and toddlers, the AAP cites reports that educational videos are of value only if children understand the information in context. Only children over the age of two typically have this ability. In addition, any time spent watching such videos takes away from the babies' active interaction time with parents, which is the best way for children to learn.
The best entertainment and learning tools for babies are live interaction with people and unstructured play time. There is no toy or TV program as useful as the parent! Through play and social interaction, children learn invaluable language, problem-solving, and creative skills.
When parents turn on the TV to watch programs in the presence of their child, they reduce the amount of time they interact with their child, and may distract their child from his/her learning activities. Parents should therefore avoid turning on the television for "background noise." Some studies also show that extensive media exposure in young children is linked to delays in language development.
Although the AAP did not go so far as to suggest eliminating television altogether, they strongly suggest setting limits on your child's TV exposure. Recognizing that parents often turn to television programs to entertain their children while parents do other much-needed tasks, such as make dinner, the AAP suggests that children have supervised, but independent, unstructured play time that allow the parent to focus on other tasks.
The AAP suggested that parents limit all kinds of "screen-time" for children under the age of two, recognizing that today electronic screens are everywhere in the form of computers, smart phones, and other media.
Surveys show that on average, 90% of children under two watch between 1-2 hours of television a day. In many households (almost one-third), children have a television in their bedroom by the age of three.
The American Association of Pediatrics stops short of recommending banning television altogether, aware that in today's reality, barring all exposure to media may be next to impossible. Nevertheless, parents with the mistaken idea that educational TV programs marketed to infants and toddlers are beneficial may take these recommendations to heart and reduce their child's TV time.