TV Does Toddlers More Harm Than Good Expert Warns
Allowing infants and toddlers to watch DVDs and TV does them more harm than good, experts warn as a review of research finds it affects language development.
January 13, 2009
Children under the age of two should not watch TV at all, experts have recommended, yet research has suggested nine in ten do watch TV regularly and some spent 40 per cent of their waking hours in front of the set.
A review of research carried out by Professor Dimitri Christakis, from the Seattle Children's Research Institute and the University of Washington, in America found no studies which demonstrated benefits associated with infants watching TV.
Writing in the journal Acta Paediatrica, he said: "The weight of existing evidence suggests the potential for harm and I believe that parents should exercise due caution in exposing infants to excessive media."
Prof Christakis has had two children and neither of them were allowed to watch TV before the age of two.
He believes occasional short periods will not cause harm but that most children watch between one and two hours a day which is too much in his opinion.
Prof Christakis said watching TV programmes or DVDs aimed at infants can actually delay language development, according to a number of studies. For example, a 2008
Thai study published in Acta Paediatrica found that if children under 12 months watched TV for more than two hours a day they were six times more likely to
have delayed language skills.
Another study found that children who watched baby DVDs between seven and 16 months knew fewer words than children who did not.
Other research found children who watched a lot of TV at an early age had poorer reading and memory skills than those who did not and another study suggested there may be a link with attention problems by the age of seven.
Prof Christakis said: "We believe that one reason is the fact that it exposes children to flashing lights, scene changes, quick edits and auditory cuts which may be over stimulating to developing brains.
"TV also replaces other more important and appropriate activities like playing or interacting with parents."
Prof Christakis is concerned that the lack of regulation of programmes and DVDs aimed at infants and claims of educational benefit should be backed up by scientific evidence he said.