“Exposure to TV takes time away from more developmentally appropriate activities such as a parent or adult caregiver and an infant engaging in free play with dolls, blocks or cars,” said Frederick Zimmerman, lead author of the study and a University of Washington associate professor of health services.
“While appropriate television viewing at the right age can be helpful for both children and parents, excessive viewing before age 3 has been shown to be associated with problems of attention control, aggressive behaviour and poor cognitive development. Early television viewing has exploded in recent years, and is one of the major public health issues facing American children.”
The researchers conducted random telephone surveys of more than 1,000 families, and found the median age at which infants were regularly exposed to media was nine months. Among those who watched TV, DVDs or videos, the average daily viewing time jumped from one hour per day for those children younger than 12 months to more than 1½ hours a day by 24 months.
Twenty-nine percent of the parents believed to watch TV, DVDs or videos were educational or were good for the child’s brain. Twenty-three percent said viewing was enjoyable or relaxing for the child. Twenty-one percent used these media as an electronic babysitter so they could do other things.
Even though educational content was the top reason given by parents, only about half the infant viewing time was reported to be in what researchers classified as a children’s educational category. This included educational TV programs such as “Sesame Street” and “Arthur” and DVDs or videos such as “Blue’s Clues.” The remaining viewing time was roughly split among children’s non-educational programs, baby DVDs or videos and grown-up television. Although parents believe in the educational value of TV, DVDs and videos, just 32 percent of parents always watched with their children.
MEDICA.de; Source: University of Washington