Healthcare News & Insights

Research: TV is changing toddlers’ brains

Educational TV for kids under two just doesn’t exist — so says the latest statement from the American Academy of Pediatrics. 

The latest research shows that 90% of children watch some form of electronic media, on average two hours a day. And up to one-third of kids under three have their own TVs set up in their rooms.

But research shows all that TV time is not a good idea, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. The group has announced new guidelines for appropriate media use for young kids. The statement will be officially released in the November issue of Pediatrics.

AAP’s first media guidance was released in 1999 and discouraged TV viewing. The updated statement says kids should be kept “screen-free” as possible, while acknowledging that that’s increasingly hard at a time when a typical home may have multiple TVs, smart-phones, computers and tablets. AAP also noted that evidence shows “educational TV” for kids is impossible, since they simply can’t understand the context and content to a degree that would let them learn anything from it. Plus, kids learn better from other people and from unstructured play time.

Young kids that take in a lot of media are also at increased risk of delays in their language development.

The guidelines make the following recommendations:

  • Set media limits for their children before age 2, bearing in mind that the AAP discourages media use for this age group. Have a strategy for managing electronic media if they choose to engage their children with it;
  • Instead of screens, opt for supervised independent play for infants and young children during times that a parent cannot sit down and actively engage in play with the child. For example, have the child play with nesting cups on the floor nearby while a parent prepares dinner;
  • Avoid placing a television set in the child’s bedroom; and
  • Recognize that their own media use can have a negative effect on children.

Click here to download the statement.

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