Switch Off the TV for Tots

Q: The TV is on in our house a lot, but our toddlers don’t watch it much of the time. Is this truly bad for them? All we ever hear are the negatives of young children watching TV. Aren’t there some positives? – TV Lover

A: It’s best to turn your TV off for young children. Here’s why: hearing the television run in the background can result in your toddlers doing less talking and or listening to others talk. You’ll clearly see this if you observe your child playing while the TV is on.

Instead, follow the TV viewing guidelines set by the American Academy of Pediatrics. The Academy strongly recommends that children not view TV at all until the age of 2. After that, the Academy suggests no more than 2 hours of tube time a day. These are sensible guidelines for parents to follow and really allow for a lot of TV viewing. You must understand that most of the day in early childhood needs to be devoted to active play so as to maximize intellectual development. Just think of all the other opportunities to experience the world that your toddlers are missing while watching TV.

There are other downsides to watching too much TV at a young age. Later on, some current research shows that you can expect many of them to have poorer achievement in math in school and to be less active physically. They are also likely to consume more junk food than those who have watched less TV.

Early TV watching has been completely demonized by most child-development experts. However, there are some positive benefits for preschoolers who watch programs with a strong educational content. Later on, these children might read more and get better grades. Unfortunately, most children are not watching primarily educational programs.

© Compass Syndicate Corporation, 2010 • Distributed by King Features Syndicate   

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