The marketing pitch is enticing – “watch this especially produced show to make your baby smart” or “watch this video, and it will develop your baby’s brain.” Many parents are happy to leave their kids with these shows because these shows act as good babysitters that can entertain their babies while they are busy with everyday work. Parents do not feel guilty because they think that when their babies or toddlers are watching these shows, they give their babies “quality time”.
Programs (and videos) geared for babies are becoming popular. Since Teletubbies has been successful in appealing to viewers under age 3, the creators of Sesame Street launched Sesame Street Beginnings that also target this age group. A 24-hour cable channel for babies, BabyFirstTV was launched in the U.S., Canada, and other countries . The average Canadian kid watches 14 hours of TV a week; the average American, three hours a day—two hours a day for babies. Also, according to a University of Washington Research, 40 percent of three-month-old babies are already watching TV.
But is TV (and Video) really good for babies and infants under age 2? According to Dimitri Christakis of Children’s Hospital in Seattle and writer of the The Elephant in the Living Room: Make Television Work for Your Kids, while older children can learn from educational shows, no study has shown that babies benefit from watching television and video. In fact, it can actually do harm:
- The first 2 years of your kid is a critical time for brain development. Watching TV steals time away from your kid’s exploring, interacting, playing with you and others, and actively learning by manipulating things around him. These are activities that help your baby develop the skills he needs to grow intellectually, socially and emotionally.
- When your kid plays, he is actively learning about how the world works. He wires his brain by experimenting with cause and effect. When your kid interacts with people, he meets his emotional milestones. TV keeps your kid away from these activities.
- The first 2 years of your child is also a critical time for learning language. Language is only learned through interaction with others, not by passive listening to TV. If you do not respond to your kid’s attempt to communicate, he could miss this important milestone. Also, your child will not learn to talk by listening to TV characters baby talk or talk down to him. He learns to talk by mimicking adult language. He learns from the adults’ simplified but correctly pronounced speech.
- Note that when your baby smiles at the TV, the TV does not smile back. This may affect him socially and psychologically.
- Dr. Sally Ward,principal speech and language therapist at the Speech, Language and Hearing Center in London, found that over the last 20 years, an increasing number of 9-month-old children were having trouble paying attention to voices when there was also background noise coming from the TV. This may affect their paying attention in class when they go to school.
- A study by Dr. Ward also found that television noise drowned out any interaction between parent and child, which is vital in developing language.
- Also, when kids who watch TV go to school, they have to make a change from being primarily visual learners to listening learners. If a kid watches more TV than interact with the family, he will have a hard time making this transition, and his school learning will suffer.
- Dimitri Christakis, a pediatrician at Children’s Hospital and Regional Medical Center in Seattle, found that children who watched television as babies are more likely to have shorter attention spans, problem concentrating and impulsiveness by age 7. He also stated that although Attention Deficit Disorder is genetic, TV can also trigger this condition because TV rewires the baby’s brain. The still-developing brain adapts to TV’s fast pace and overstimulation.
- Also, in his study, Christakis found that children who watched TV as babies were less able to recognize letters and numbers by the time they go to school. A 2005 University of Pennsylvania study found that watching Sesame Street before age 3 delayed a child’s ability to develop language skills.
- Many TV shows and videos geared to kids are actually teaching them the wrong things. They distort reality with their cartoonish and unnatural depiction of the world. Also, the pacing of these shows is fast and teaches the baby’s sponge-like brain to always expect fast-paced input. The real world, as they will soon find out, is much more boring and requires patience to adapt to.
- Many other studies have found a link between increased TV time and developmental delays, although it is not clear if a direct cause and effect exists, or if parents of those who leave their kids in front of TV are just not good teachers. Other studies also suggested that long-term exposure to television diminishes children’s ability to communicate via reading and writing. It can also lead to attention and learning problems in the long term.
- According to Ari Brown, a pediatrician and member of the American Academy of Pedriatrics committee that wrote a 2001 report about babies, television and other passive media, many studies have found that children don’t really understand what’s happening on a screen until they are about 2 years old. Once they do, media can actually be good for them.
In 2008, France’s broadcast authority has banned French channels from airing TV shows aimed at children under three years old. The High Audiovisual Council of France have found out that “Television viewing hurts the development of children under three years old and poses a certain number of risks, encouraging passivity, slow language acquisition, over-excitedness, troubles with sleep and concentration as well as dependence on screens.”
Dimitri Christakis talks about the effect of media on children
Here are tips to keep in mind regarding babies and TV watching:
- Child experts agree that children under 2 should not watch any TV, video or any passive entertainment.
- Instead of letting your baby watch TV, let him play and entertain himself. Playing is an activity where your baby can derive a lot developmental benefits.
- Engage with your baby in these activities that benefit his brain.
- If you have to do work that requires concentration and you cannot multitask, do your work at a time when your baby is napping. If this is not possible, let him play with toys on the floor or in the playpen instead. Get a caregiver who interacts with your child if your child craves for human companion (which he naturally does). Click here for best baby toy ideas
- Interact with your baby as much as possible. He needs this to build his brain. Respond to his smile, speech and actions. Entertain, recite rhymes, and sing to him in an engaging way. No show on TV can beat what you have to offer. Your voice, touch, smell, and your reactions to things he does are what he craves. Don’t let your baby be passive.
- Do not expect that you can use TV and video to tutor your child or that they will have any positive effect on his brain. At best, it should be a means for you to take a half-hour break from interacting with your child in a way that will help him developmentally.
- If your baby has to watch TV, watch with him, and make watching an interactive event. Reinforce what he sees on TV by talking or singing to him.
- If you want to stimulate your baby’s brain, instead of letting him watch “educational videos”, read to him instead. Learn about the benefits of reading to your child.
See also the The good and bad effects of TV on children
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Educational Toys and Gifts to Help Make Your Kids Smart
Good evidence suggests that screen viewing before age 18 months has lasting negative effects on children's language development, reading skills, and short term memory. It also contributes to problems with sleep and attention.What are the effects of television on children? ›
Too much screen time can also take away from reading, studying, learning activities, play, and exercise. Digital media can also show alcohol and drug use, smoking, and sexual behavior. Your child may see these things before they are emotionally ready to understand these issues. And before they can make good decisions.Can television have positive effects on children? ›
Television can teach kids important values and life lessons. Educational programming can develop young children's socialization and learning skills. News, current events and historical programming can help make young people more aware of other cultures and people.Do babies benefit from TV? ›
Not only does screen time not deliver benefits for babies and young toddlers, it can actually negatively affect language development, reading skills and short-term memory, according to the AAP. It can also disrupt a child's sleep and capacity to pay attention.What are the negative effects of television? ›
Too much screen time can lead to obesity, sleep problems, chronic neck and back problems, depression, anxiety and lower test scores in children. Children should limit screen time to 1 to 2 hours per day. Adults should also try to limit screen time outside of work hours.What happens when a child watches too much TV? ›
Studies show that kids who watch too much TV are more likely to be overweight — and, depending on the content of what they see, more aggressive. Too media use is also linked to poor grades, sleep problems, and behavior problems.What is the effect of TV? ›
Kids who watch a lot of TV do not have time to play or socialize. Less or no interaction with peers can affect their social development. TV eats away the time they get to interact with other children in their social circle, which may affect their knowledge and understanding of social interactions and behavior.What are 5 Advantages of television? ›
- Educational. TV has many educational benefits for children and adults. ...
- Stay Current. TV is a source of news. ...
- Get Cultured. TV can provide a cheap escape instead of travelling. ...
- Crazy Fandoms are Fun. ...
- Feel the Connection. ...
- Family Bonding. ...
- Learn a Language. ...
- Mental Health.
Grey matter volume was higher in regions toward the front and side of the head in kids who watched a lot of TV... In this case, higher brain volume in these kids was associated with a lower verbal IQ.What are the positive and negative impacts of TV? ›
Some positive effects are: it enhances learning skills and recognize emotions; and the negative effects are it leads to violence, behave aggressively and lastly, it leads to emotional problems.
Too much of television affects the development of the brain and muscles. It might also interfere with hormonal imbalance. All these combined are very harmful and can have long lasting repercussions.What are the positive effects of screen time? ›
Positive Effects of Media Use
educational value and school-related homework and research. playing video games can improve motor skills and coordination. internet tools, texting, and shared video games are easy and fun ways to socialize and communicate.
High exposure to background TV has been found to negatively affect language use and acquisition, attention, cognitive development and executive function in children younger than 5 years. It also reduces the amount and quality of parent–child interaction and distracts from play (17,22,35,38).How much TV is OK for babies? ›
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that babies younger than 18 months get no screen time at all. The exception to this rule is video chatting with grandparents or other family members or friends, which is considered quality time interacting with others.Is TV harmful to your brain? ›
“Researchers have found that moderate to high television viewing during midlife is associated with increased memory loss and decreased fine motor skills,” explains Manisha Parulekar, M.D., director, division of Geriatrics, and co-director, Center for Memory Loss and Brain Health at Hackensack University Medical Center.What is the most negative effect of television? ›
According to research, watching too much TV can alter the brain structure and promote negative behaviour – especially violence and aggression. Kids who watch shows containing content inappropriate for minors are at a higher risk of this problem.
In multiple studies, excessive screen time has been linked to school problems, anger, aggression, frustration, depression and other emotional problems. Over-stimulation causes kids to have poor focus and depletes their mental energy, which often leads to explosive behavior.Why is it important to limit children's TV times? ›
The problems with screens
Too much screen time and regular exposure to poor-quality programming has been linked to: Obesity. Inadequate sleep schedules and insufficient sleep. Behavior problems.
Answer:- definitely, children can increase their knowledge and they can even feel delighted too because tv is a good source of entertainment.How does TV change the brain? ›
The studies found that people who reported watching moderate to large amounts of TV in their 40s, 50s and early 60s experienced greater cognitive declines, and had lower volumes of gray matter in their brains, in their 70s and 80s, compared with people who reported watching very little TV in midlife.
Television, sometimes shortened to TV, is a telecommunication medium for transmitting moving images and sound. The term can refer to a television set, or the medium of television transmission. Television is a mass medium for advertising, entertainment, news, and sports.What are the health benefits of watching TV? ›
- Reduce Stress. First, according to a study released last month, watching TV has the potential to reduce women's stress. ...
- Promote Healthy Living. ...
- Inspire Creativity.
TV inspires the mind
It broadens knowledge of different cultures, promotes tolerance and global understanding of international issues. Through current affairs, discovery, lifestyle, cooking shows and children's programmes, television encourages scientific and cultural curiosity.
Their studies indicate that excessive TV watching can cause cognitive decline and a reduction in gray matter. Experts recommend that you select an activity to replace TV watching that you enjoy and will stick with.Does TV slow child development? ›
Excessive screen time (ST) results in a delay in development of expressive and receptive language. Children learn to express themselves by imitating their parents or caregivers. By the age of three, they start speaking a lot of words. But those exposed to too much ST are unable to do so.What are the four effects of television violence? ›
The author briefly defines four harmful effects produced by television violence: an aggressor effect, a victim effect, a bystander effect, and a self- socialization effect.Is screen time good for your brain? ›
A recent study by the National Institutes of Health showed that kids who spend more than two hours a day on screen time activities score lower on language and thinking tests. And kids who spend more than seven hours a day on screens show a thinning of the brain's cortex, which manages critical thinking and reasoning.Is screen time beneficial or harmful? ›
Excessive screen time may inhibit a child's ability to observe and experience the typical everyday activities they need to engage with in order to learn about the world, leading to a kind of “tunnel vision,” which can be detrimental to overall development.How much screen time is healthy for a child? ›
Although some screen time can be educational, it's easy to go overboard, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. The American Academy of Pediatrics discourages media use by children younger than 2 and recommends limiting older children's screen time to no more than one or two hours a day.How does TV affect children's education? ›
Television's effects on education are long term – positive and negative. Studies have found the following: Children who watched exclusively educational TV as preschoolers had higher grades, less aggression, and placed more value on academics than those who watched all kinds of TV.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that babies younger than 18 months get no screen time at all. The exception to this rule is video chatting with grandparents or other family members or friends, which is considered quality time interacting with others.How many hours a baby should watch TV? ›
Interestingly, American Academy of Pediatrics guidelines recommend a zero screen time rule (except for video calls) for children under 18 months (AAP, 2016). For toddlers aged 18 to 24 months, they suggest a limited amount of screen time. And for two- to five-year-old children, one hour a day.Is it OK to have TV on in background around baby? ›
Background Noise Is Harmful to Learning
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that children under the age of two should not watch any television.
It's best for children under 2 years to have no screen time other than video-chatting. You can be a role-model for healthy screen habits for babies and toddlers. Avoid having screens on in the background. They can distract children or show distressing images.Is it OK to watch TV with baby in the room? ›
Television viewing in babies under 18 months of age should be avoided, other than video chatting. To help encourage brain, language, and social development, spend more time playing, reading, and being physically active with your baby.Is Baby TV bad for babies? ›
Interestingly, American Academy of Pediatrics guidelines recommend a zero screen time rule (except for video calls) for children under 18 months (AAP, 2016). For toddlers aged 18 to 24 months, they suggest a limited amount of screen time.Does TV noise affect baby? ›
' Yes, it's true…as much as tv can help those long days pass, it is important to be aware that the quantity and volume of background noise has been found to have adverse effects on the development of language skills in young children.How do I make my TV safe for my baby? ›
You can wrap cords in small coils and secure them with zip ties or rubber bands, making them less easy to grab and play with. Store them behind the TV and secure them so they are hard to see and harder to reach, and thus, not a distraction. Consider using cord covers and routing channels to hide wires completely.How do I keep my baby safe from the TV? ›
- Mount It On the Wall. ...
- Mount Your TV With Straps. ...
- Consider Professional Installation. ...
- Tie Off and Hide Loose Cords and Ends. ...
- Do the Same With All Other Appliances. ...
- Clear or Block Off the Space in Front of Your TV. ...
- Round Off Any Sharp Edges.
“Researchers have found that moderate to high television viewing during midlife is associated with increased memory loss and decreased fine motor skills,” explains Manisha Parulekar, M.D., director, division of Geriatrics, and co-director, Center for Memory Loss and Brain Health at Hackensack University Medical Center.
The American Academy of Pediatrics discourages media use by children younger than 2 and recommends limiting older children's screen time to no more than one or two hours a day.What age should a child have a TV in their room? ›
This is usually something they learn as they grow older, so it may be worth waiting until your kids are mature enough. There is no one-size-fits-all age, but I'd say waiting until your youngsters reach their teens (around 14 years old) is ideal.Why does my baby stare at the TV? ›
Babies stare because they're learning to communicate.
So, during the early months, they are taking it all in—staring—much more than having a conversation with you.
Screens reduce empathy
Research has shown that screen time inhibits young children's ability to read faces and learn social skills, two key factors needed to develop empathy. Face-to-face interactions are the only way young children learn to understand non-verbal cues and interpret them.