Babies and TV. To make them watch it or not? Especially when there are so many claims about educational programs being good for babies. Well, I made my daughter watch it. Now that I think about it, I realize it was more for my convenience, because it gave me that extra time to get things done. And I believed it was helping her too. Do I regret it? I do.
When my son was born, we went from lots of TV to no TV at all. They only started watching it for a short while again recently, and even then my son wasn’t interested. He prefers to go and do his own thing, or play with his toys. And the only time they are allowed to watch TV is in the morning while I am preparing their breakfast. That’s it. I just think there are too many other things children can be exploring in real life, and TV might be depriving them of the time to do that. Of course I would prefer to have more free time during the day for my own things, but they won’t be little too long. I don’t want to have too many regrets in the future because of some choices I made for my convenience.
Here is an interesting article to consider:
“A decade ago, the American Academy of Pediatrics suggested that parents limit TV consumption by children under two years of age. The recommendations were based as much on common sense as science, because studies of media consumption and infant development were themselves in their infancy.
The research has finally grown up. And though it’s still ongoing, it’s mature enough for the AAP to release a new, science-heavy policy statement on babies watching television, videos or any other passive media form.
Their verdict: It’s not good, and probably bad.
Media, whether playing in the background or designed explicitly as an infant educational tool, “have potentially negative effects and no known positive effects for children younger than 2 years,” concluded the AAP’s report. “Although infant/toddler programming might be entertaining, it should not be marketed as or presumed by parents to be educational.”
“There have been about 50 studies that have come out on media use by children in this age group between 1999 and now,” said Ari Brown, a pediatrician and member of the AAP committee that wrote the new report.
Those studies have found that children don’t really understand what’s happening on a screen until they’re about 2 years old, until then television is essentially a mesmerizing, glowing box.
Used at night, TV might help kids fall asleep, but that appears to come at a delayed cost of subsequent sleep disturbances and irregularities.
At other times, media consumption comes with opportunity costs, foremost among them the silence of parents. “While television is on, there’s less talking, and talk time is very important in language development,” said Brown.
Three studies since 1999 have tracked educational television use and language development, and they found a link between increased TV time and developmental delays. Whether that’s a cause or effect — parents who leave kids in front of televisions might simply be poor teachers — isn’t clear, nor are the long-term effects, but the AAP called the findings “concerning.” In the same vein, there may also be a link to attention problems.
Even when media plays in the background, it distracts babies from play, an activity that is known to have deep developmental benefits. And for parents who use media to carve out a few precious, necessary free minutes in busy schedules, Brown recommended letting kids entertain themselves.
As for iPads and other kid-friendly interactive computing devises, Brown said research has barely started, much less come to conclusions. But she counseled skepticism of promotional claims, which have been made with some of the same zeal as products of now-dubious standing, such as the controversial Baby Einstein videos.
“The way these kids’ programs came out was, ‘These are really educational! They’re going to help your kids learn!’ Well that’s great, but prove it. Show me the science,” Brown said. “I don’t have a problem with touch screens, and they’re not necessarily bad. But we need to understand how this affects kids.””
Photo by Toshimasa Ishibashi (Flickr)