Thursday, December 9, 2010

Babies & TV

Babies who watch TV are more likely to have delayed cognitive development and language at 14 months, especially if they're watching programs intended for adults and older children. We probably knew that 24 and Grey's Anatomy don't really qualify as educational content, but it's surprising that TV-watching made a difference at such a tender age.

Babies who watched 60 minutes of TV daily had developmental scores one-third lower at 14 months than babies who weren't watching that much TV. Though their developmental scores were still in the normal range. But this is just the beginning of a child's life. If TV remains a constant part of their world those scores may look different as a year or two roll by.
Don't let your child miss out on talking, playing, and interaction that is essential to learning and development.

This new study, which appeared in the Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine, followed 259 lower-income families in New York, most of whom spoke Spanish as their primary language at home. Other studies examining higher-income families have also come to the same conclusion: TV watching not only isn't educational, but it seems to stunt babies' development.

But as they get older what about "educational" TV, like Sesame Street
Good question! The real key here is (surprise, surprise) THE PARENT!
There are teachable moments with educational TV but it takes parental participation, interaction and reinforcement to be most enjoyable and effective for children.
One BIG mistake parents make is creating short, short, short attention spans in their children. TV is very much a part of that.
Help your kids find imaginative play. A ball, a set of blocks or card board boxes can equal hours of (educational) play for kids! Sustained activity with varying energy levels is good!

Research (New York University School of Medicine-Bellevue Hospital Center) has found that parents whose children watch non-educational TV programs like Spongebob SquarePants spend less time reading to their children or teaching them.
At this point, parents reading this are probably saying "d'uh!"

But TV is so often a parent's good friend, keeping kids happily occupied so the grownups can cook dinner, answer the phone, or take a shower. It is seductive in the short run. Be careful.

The bottom line: This latest study adds more fuel to a recommendation from the American Academy of Pediatrics that babies under age 2 watch no TV at all. If you've just got to watch, it's best to make sure the tots are fast asleep. And make sure they are not in the same room. The changing lighting and sounds disrupt healthy sleep patterns.

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