Do toddlers and TV go together? A new study from Canada's Universite de Montreal says no. The recent study linked the amount of time toddlers spend in front of the television with a host of problems later in childhood.
The study found that television viewing at age 2 was associated with less classroom engagement, less exercise on the weekend, higher body mass, increased soda consumption, and greater odds of being bullied at age 10. The more the TV was on, the study says, the more severe these outcomes were. The findings held true even after researchers accounted for other possible influences like gender, sleep, temperament, parental situations, and later TV habits.
Researchers think the problem is that age 2 is a key developmental moment for the brain. Lifestyle habits and personal preferences are cementing into place, and TV can be an intellectually and physically passive environment, leading the mind into trouble down the road.
The American Academy of Pediatrics has famously advised that children under age 2 watch zero television, and children over age 2 watch no more than two hours a day. The new study suggests that this recommendation is in need of revision. It may be that kids shouldn't watch any TV until much later in life. The brain, after all, is a wholly mysterious organ whose fundamental operation we simply do not understand, and TV is a hugely powerful force.
We should think about tuning into a new program of turning off the TV for toddlers.