In a recent survey, 90 percent of parents said their children under age 2 watch some form of electronic media. On average, children this age watch televised programs one to two hours per day. By age 3, almost one third of children have a television in their bedroom...
At the time, there was limited data on the subject, but the AAP believed there were more potential negative effects than positive effects of media exposure for the younger set. Newer data bears this out, and the AAP stands by its recommendation to keep children under age 2 as “screen-free” as possible...
The key findings include:
- Unstructured play time is more valuable for the developing brain than electronic media. Children learn to think creatively, problem solve, and develop reasoning and motor skills at early ages through unstructured, unplugged play. Free play also teaches them how to entertain themselves.
- When parents are watching their own programs, this is “background media” for their children. Itdistracts the parent and decreases parent-child interaction. Its presence may also interfere with a young child’s learning from play and activities.
The report recommends that parents and caregivers:
- Instead of screens, opt for supervised independent play for infants and young children during times that a parent cannot sit down and actively engage in play with the child. For example, have the child play with nesting cups on the floor nearby while a parent prepares dinner.
This all makes me chuckle all the more at Jennifer Fulwiler's recent trip down no-kids-yet lane, remembering what she misses about not having kids--which is knowing everything about perfect parenting:
Now that I’d dealt with the errors of that woman’s mothering, Old Jen Who Had it All Figured Out moved on to friends who let their kids watch TV. Had they not read the research? I wondered how to inform them politely that it is not ideal for young children to watch television, even for just an hour a day. “Instead of taking the easy way out and plopping your kids in front of the television,” I imagined myself saying to my unenlightened friends, “find some classic toys for them to play with—perhaps wooden blocks, or a wagon—or, better yet, read a book with your children to nurture their growing minds! ...
All of those thoughts came flooding back as I looked at that old picture yesterday afternoon. Then a crashing sound caught my attention, and I turned around in time to see two of my kids dump out a box of books and begin throwing them at one another. My oldest child shouted from upstairs that he wanted to know if, theoretically, puddles of black ink are hard to get out of carpets. Then the baby started crying. I gathered the middle kids, put on an hour-long episode of Dora the Explorer, and implored them to LOOK AT THE NICE GLOWING SCREEN, ignoring their protests that they’d already seen it twice today. Then I tossed some formula into a bottle and popped it in the baby’s mouth, since even five lactation consultants had not been enough to help me to figure out breastfeeding.
Everything in that AAP statement sounds right. I know that having the news or What Not to Wear on distracts me from each and every playtime moment of Baby J if he's up and toddling around. But I also know that he points out animals, dances to songs and points to characters he likes in those PBS Kids shows.
But, I'll plop Joey down next to me with some nesting cups tomorrow when I prepare dinner. We'll see how long his "unstructured play time" can last before I implore him to just go look at the NICE GLOWING SCREEN.