Not Prime Time for TV | Seventh Generation
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Not Prime Time for TV

12 comments
Author: the Inkslinger

Child Watching TelevisionDo 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.

photo: Nori

12
Comments

abanmc picture
abanmc
06/22/12
I have 2 step children ages 7 and 4. The 7 year old spent much of her formative years sitting in front of a TV because of various circumstance with her mother. Her 4 year old brother has NOT had the same amount of TV. The difference between them is amazing! The 4 year old can play by himself, has an imagination, and is very close to being able to read. The 7 year old to this day, when you turn on the TV, her attention is solely on the television. She has very minimal imagination, that has come after A LOT of no tv time, and having her brother push her. As much as there are some good shows for children out there, my personal opinion is there should be very limited if any TV time during the first few years, it is way better for the brain development. With my upcoming child, I plan to use the TV as little as I can as he/she grows.
wickenching picture
wickenching
06/20/10
My 3 and 5 year old girls do not and have never watched TV. There are too many other, much more worth while activities to be doing than remaining stationary, tuned in (or out?) in front of an electronic box. "Educational programs" teaching your little ones new words? Read to them. Your kids will learn a heck of a lot more face to face with a real person than they ever will from TV. My own opinions.
marev picture
marev
05/28/10
I let my child watch television and I have to admit she does watch too much. But what the studies say I may have to disagree that it will cause problems in the future. My child is very observant and her vocabulary is advanced compared to other children her age. Most of the shows she watches are educational and I watch with her and discuss with her what is going on and she understands. What she learns she associates with what she sees when we are out. Please explain to me how this is harming her? It seems now that she is normal and exceeding what she is expected in her age group. Am I ruining her future that she isn't going to be as smart or healthy compared to those who are limited watching television? I feel guilty that these studies are telling us that we are bad parents. I let her watch television, I read to her, I interact with her, I feed her healthy food, I use sunscreen, my husband makes sure he makes time for her, what more does society want us to do with our children? You try to do your very best for your child but when the child becomes and adult its their decision whether they want to follow through with what you have taught them.
annmarie14 picture
annmarie14
05/28/10
My child watches tv and always has. She has a wide vocabulary, is socially outgoing and highly creative. Many parents use TV as a way to babysit their kids AND the kind of parent that does that is also less likely to want to interact with their kids on any level. I watch WITH her, we discuss what is going on and we DO THINGS TOGETHER, like reading and imaginative play outside of television also. ALL of these factors contribute to a healthy child. Don't watch TV, don't feed kids milk or food using hormones, don't use sunscreen because it can accelerate melanoma cell reproduction (heard that one yet?). I'm surprised we've ALL made it into adulthood!
bbrandonsmom picture
bbrandonsmom
05/28/10
There is another way to look at children watching tv-the environmental impact of it. http://www.thesolutionsjournal.com/node/571 I don't have a problem with older kids watching limited education tv. Maybe a 30 minute long episode of a nature type thing. But even that can introduce violence into a child by the way of nature. We need to be selective of what our children watch. Infants, do not need to watch tv at all. For behavior, an easy thing is to observe your child after watching extended tv vs either watching none, or very little and then the following behavior. There is a difference. My dh loves to play video games. But I've told him already, his son does not need to remember his childhood sitting and playing games all the time with dad. They can do other things together. We need to set the example for our children. I spent most of my childhood outside, not in front of tv.
lovemusick picture
lovemusick
05/28/10
we live in a time where everything must be used in moderation. I can totaly relate to susanc... I too have a tv/computer based husband, and I can see the result of over doing it. of course no one would want that for thier child(ren). life is all about balance, and while I greatly comend parrents who are able to raise thier children and manage to entertain and teach them without any television, its not practical for all. We as parents must be aware of what is too much and keep it uder that amount. moderation is the key, I think.
suzanc picture
suzanc
05/27/10
RESEARCH OF ANY TYPE IS BENEFICIAL ONLY TO THE TOPIC AT HAND. WHAT ABOUT RESEARCH OF YOUNG CHILDREN WATCHING EDUCATIONAL TELEVISION AND THE IMPACT THAT IT HAS ON THEM? I AGREE THAT PLAYTIME W/OUT T.V. IS VERY IMPORTANT BUT SOME EDUCATIONAL PROGRAMS ARE ACTUALLY BENEFICIAL. MY TODDLER SON DOESN'T REALLY WATCH T.V. EXCEPT FOR A COUPLE OF CHOICE PROGRAMS AND HE HAS ACTUALLY LEARNED MANY NEW WORDS AND SKILLS FROM THOSE SHOWS. MY HUSBAND HOWEVER IS A T.V. FANATIC AND GETTING HIM TO TURN OFF THE T.V. WHILE OUR SON IS IN THE SAME ROOM IS LIKE WORLD WAR 3! I DO TRY TO TELL HIM THAT OUR SON GETS BORED SITTING THERE WATCHING T.V. WITH HIM AND THAT HE'D RATHER BE PLAYING OR DOING SOMETHING MORE EXCITING. I THINK MOST PARENTS USE T.V. AS A WAY TO FINISH UP CHORES OR BECAUSE THEY ARE TIRED OR BORED THEMSELVES. AND I AGREE WITH AKMOM THAT WATCHING EDUCATIONAL PROGRAMS WITH YOUR CHILDREN OPENS UP CONVERSATIONS AND BONDING TIME.
AKmom picture
AKmom
05/27/10
T.V. time need to be limited in the young children so that they learn other ways to entertain themselves with imaginary play, reading (mom and dad, older sibling, or other relatives or to themselves), arts and crafts, building with legos or lego like toys, exploring their rooms etc. and going outside to play alot. As they get older and with all the electronics available ( gameboys, computer games etc.), we need to teach kids how to not get addicted to these forms of entertainment. In our house with preteens and one preschooler, they all know T.V. doesn't go on in the daytime unless it is a historic event etc.. T.V. and computer/electronics are combined time. If all the time is used up on the computer, then no T.V. that day. Our youngest only watches occasional PBS show and DVDs for kids for selected time and limited time. Yes, T.V. can educate kids but overuse and watching inappropiate shows is not good for their development. We have used T.V. (sports, national geographic etc.) to educate our kids but we watch it with them and make a discussion based on what they viewed. Discussion help develop morals, viewpoints, strategies related to a sport etc.
AnastasiaB picture
AnastasiaB
05/27/10
I have read Gloria DeGaetano's book 'Parenting Well in a Media Age: Keeping Our Kids Human'. I highly recommend it to any parent or educator, I actually wrote a review on it (<a href="http://bit.ly/cFlTP9" target="_blank">http://bit.ly/cFlTP9</a>). The book goes in depth beyond just kids watching TV, it opens our eyes just how media has infiltrated our everyday lives and the lives of our children to such an extent that they don't have their own opinions, they don't know how to create, their imagination is impaired. All they talk about are cartoon characters, pop singers, body image, etc... In my own experience I have noticed how much more advanced (especially in vocabulary) our 16 month old is than other children her age. She watches very little TV now, if any. I read with her, we play together, cook together, clean together - it is all this interaction that develops her brain, something a TV can NEVER do. She speaks at the level of some two year olds. I can say first hand that with all media completely absent, children would develop to me much more intelligent. Media, to an extent, has replaced parenting in many households, unfortunately. I'm on the computer while she naps, otherwise she wants to get in on it too!
bbrandonsmom picture
bbrandonsmom
05/27/10
I just want to ask-what happened to just reading to your children? That teaches them to read and gives families quality time together. At 6 months of age, children do not need to be plopped in front of a tv to learn to read, or so the parents can say "oh, my baby can read". I'm sorry if that's offensive. That baby should be exploring the world around it and learning, and having books read by mom or dad or some one in the family. There are many studies showing the harm from watching tv.
FlamingJune picture
FlamingJune
05/27/10
I am not advocating TV watching for anyone, especially not children, but it is important to note that the researchers in this study found deficits correlated with the amount of TV watched ABOVE AVERAGE. The average amount of TV watched was 1.2 hours a day (around 8 hrs a week), and watching more than this was associated with the negative cognitive and social effects mentioned. This is by way addressing the above question - I don't know that teaching your child to read by watching a video is helpful, but as long as the time is limited, there is no evidence from this study that it is harmful. That being said, Alison Gopnik, a researcher of infant behavior, wrote a really great piece for the NY times (<a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/16/opinion/16gopnik.html?_r=1&scp=2&sq=alison+gopnik&st=nyt" target="_blank">click here</a>) entitled "Your Baby is Smarter Than You Think", and in that essay, she recommends natural spontaneous play as the best way for children to learn. So maybe break out the pots and pans instead of the DVD player, but you probably don't have to freak out that you have scarred your child for life if they watch Sesame Street a couple of times a week.
shae420247 picture
shae420247
05/27/10
There are many things out for babies to teach them to read at a young age. Is that a no no for new or expecting mothers? Would love to hear some feedback on that! Thanks for your time!