A longitudinal study of infants from birth to age three showed TV viewing before the age of two does not improve a child's language and visual motor skills. The findings suggest that maternal, child, and household characteristics are more influential in a child's cognitive development. "Contrary to marketing claims and some parents’ perception that television viewing is beneficial to children’s brain development, no evidence of such benefit was found," says Marie Evans Schmidt, lead author of the study.
The study analysed data of 872 children. In-person visits with both mothers and infants were performed immediately after birth, at six months, and three years of age while mothers completed mail-in questionnaires regarding their child's TV viewing habits when they were one and two years old.
The study investigated the long term associations between infant TV viewing from birth to two years old and both language and visual-motor skill test scores at three years of age. These were calculated using the Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test III (PPVT III) and Wide-Range Assessment of Visual Motor Abilities (WRAVMA) test. The PPVT measures receptive vocabulary and is correlated with IQ, while WRAVMA tests for visual motor, visual spatial, and fine motor skills.
The researchers controlled for sociodemographic and environmental factors known to contribute to an infants' cognitive development, including mother's age, education, household income, marital status, parity, and postpartum depression, and the child's gender, race, birth weight, body mass index, and sleep habits.
Using linear regression models, the researchers equalised the influences of each of these factors and calculated the independent effects of TV viewing on the cognitive development of infants. "Parents need to understand that infants and toddlers do not learn or benefit in any way from viewing TV at an early age," concludes Michael Rich, contributing author on this study.
MEDICA.de; Source: Children's Hospital Boston