Turn Off The Television! Toddlers Should Avoid Screens Altogether, Says AAP

old televisionWasn’t I just asking about going to the movies? I hate to be a Debbie Downer, especially on this issue. I mean, there have been times when I’ve used the electronic babysitter in my house. When you’ve got no human help, sometimes it can be a life saver. Sometimes.

However,  even when I’ve used the TV in those times of desperation, whether I needed to do some work or I just didn’t have any more energy left to entertain my children, I’ve always felt a little bit guilty about it. Now, it turns out: that guilt is warranted.

The initial advice, given back in 1999, was “No Screen Time For Kids Under Two.” This was based on The Precautionary Principle: the idea that they thought it might do more harm than good, but they had no actual data to back it up. Now, The AAP  has more than fifty studies over ten years that validate their advice.   Among  their findings:

  • Infant and Toddler shows marketed as educational have not proven to be such due to lack of understanding of content. (Remember when the makers of Baby Einstein offered people their money back on their products? Hmmmmm.)
  • Young children learn by playing and interacting, not from screens.
  • “Children learn to think creatively, problem solve, and develop reasoning and motor skills at early ages through unstructured, unplugged play. Free play also teaches them how to entertain themselves.”
  • “Young children with heavy media use are at risk for delays in language development once they start school, but more research is needed as to the reasons.”

And this one, which definitely put the nail in the coffin for me:

  • “When parents are watching their own programs, this is “background media” for their children. It distracts the parent and decreases parent-child interaction. Its presence may also interfere with a young child’s learning from play and activities.”

Apparently, even though your child may be quietly playing on the floor, he/she looks at the screen 1-3x a minute. That sounds like a lot to me.  Also, (and this is obvious) parents talk to kids less when watching TV, thereby giving them fewer opportunities for language development.

Although this study is about the small screen, there is also the issue of the smaller screen. Does your baby use an iPad? This video kind of made me cry. Here is a baby who knows how to use an iPad, but doesn’t know how to “work” a magazine.

Obviously, take all of this with a grain of salt, just like Emily said earlier, do as you would do. We can pick and choose the issues that are the most important to us as parents. Most of us can’t control it all.

For me, the amount of television we watch in our house still feels okay  (maybe 2 hours a week…maybe less), so I’ll continue to use it that much, but not more.

You can read more about this and see the entire AAP presentation over at Strollerderby.

photo: dailyinvention/flickr


Article Posted 5 years Ago

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