Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Kids and TV

There are lots of mixed messages about kids and television. On one hand, television can have positive effects on kids: it can increase knowledge, improve imagination and improve racial attitudes. On the other hand, studies have shown that children who watch a lot of TV are not only likely to be overweight as children, but are also more likely to have health problems in adulthood.

Even scarier is a recent study showing that television viewing by children under three may be linked to autism. Perhaps, as the author of the article linked above suggests, if children are exposed to too much television while their brains are still developing they don't learn to interact with the real world. It doesn't seem that far-fetched that television could affect children's development when children aged six to eight are more likely to look at a picture of a blank television than a human face.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children under two years old not watch any television, and yet there are videos aimed at babies (I have a couple). But even if you don't intentionally sit your baby down in front of the television, if you watch television your baby probably watches some too. Television and other screens are so pervasive in our society that more research should be done to find out whether spending time staring at a screen as a baby or toddler can interfere with normal development.

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