Research has shown that quality programming can have a positive effect on the academic performance of preschoolers and schoolchildren. But what about younger children - infants and toddlers?
Today, almost all infants and toddlers are exposed to about 1-2 hours of television or videos every day. When “background” TV or videos are included, children in this age group are exposed to about four hours of TV daily.
Very young children process exposure to television and videos differently than children who are even just a few years older. Studies have shown that TV and videos in the first three years of life has been linked to:
- delayed language development
- delayed readiness for Kindergarten
- sleep problems
- attention disorders
- behavior problems, and long-term social development issues
These issues may develop because babies’ brains are undergoing amazing changes at this age, forming connections between neurons. This development may be hindered by television because the activities that help children learn best - playing, singing, exploring - are frequently distracted by the television. These frequent interruptions can limit your child’s motor and cognitive development.
TV and video time also limits quality time with your child. Research shows that even when children watch television shows or videos that are designed to create interaction with their parents, a parent watches with the child less than half the time.
So, what can you do?
- Turn off the television.
- Put away the iPad.
- Take away the phone.
Instead, read a book together. Play with toys, blocks, puzzles, or games. Go for a walk. Sing a song. Go to the park. Talk to your child. Narrate your day while you cook dinner or fold the laundry. Turn on some music and dance! Count something. Point out colors. Point out shapes.
There are a million ways to fill the hours - without a screen. Give it a try. It will enrich both of your lives.