This week, the American Academy of Pediatrics issued a policy statement about the dangers that television poses for children under the age of two. These physicians declare that television may result in sleep disturbances and delayed speech for these young children. An article on Vitals, an internet site associated with MSNBC, cites a disturbing statistic from a 2007 study: “About 90 percent of parents say their kids younger than 2 watch some type of media. By the age of 3, nearly one-third of kids have a TV in their bedrooms.”
The doctors recommend that rather than sitting toddlers in front of quickly flickering images, parents provide playtime for their children. According to the report, even background television may interfere with play activities that benefit children’s learning. In fact, it also inhibits parents’ interactions with their children.
While a few studies indicate that children older than 2 can improve their language and social skills by watching educational programs, the research does not extend those benefits to young children. In order to receive any positive results, children need to have the ability to pay attention and understand television programming. Babies do not!
According to Dr. Ari Brown, a pediatrician in Austin, Texas, and lead author of the new policy statement, “Studies show that children under 11/2 years old have the same reaction to a TV program regardless of whether it's going forward or backward.” The AAP refers to two studies that indicate that “for kids 2 and under, watching programs such as ‘Sesame Street’ may have a negative impact on language development.”
Who needs further evidence that it’s time to unplug?