Article by Meredith Whitmore
Published May 4, 2009
This is an excerpt from an article found on this website: Plugged In Online.
Most parents of small children tackle daily dilemmas—including but not limited to finding time to shower, get dressed and eat two uninterrupted bites of a sandwich. So simple things like The Wiggles and Baby Einstein can feel like lifeguards throwing flotation devices into a raging sea. Twenty minutes of TV time for a tyke can feel like a 20-hour personal retreat for his parents. Mom or Dad gets the kind of time-out that isn't designed for people less than three feet tall.
But beyond getting a breather, when many parents place Junior in front of a television set, they're also striving to do the right thing for his education. Since DVDs and TV programming cover such topics as foreign languages, vocabulary, fine art and classical music, how can babies not become mini geniuses? Learning shapes and colors the old-fashioned way looks banal by comparison!
In fact, parents believe TV is such an effective tutor that 40 percent of 3-month-old babies are watching about an hour of it every day in this country. And by the time they're 2, almost 90 percent of children are spending two to three hours a day in front of a screen.
Solder the Red Wire Here
In light of these statistics, then, it's shocking to hear harsh truth: The American Academy of Pediatrics advises parents not to allow any television viewing for children ages 2 and younger—regardless of content. To quote their policy statement, "Although certain television programs may be promoted to this age group, research on early brain development shows that babies and toddlers have a critical need for direct interactions with parents and other significant caregivers for healthy brain growth and the development of appropriate social, emotional and cognitive skills." . . .
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If you don't want to read the whole article, here's the ending of it. I recommend reading the whole thing though.
. . . Does this mean that parents who decide to let Sissy watch Dora the Explorer while they shower are dooming her to a life of failure? Thankfully, no. But if screen time is a habitual, time-consuming activity, its effects become riskier. And if parents want an expert's viewing guidelines, Dr. Christakis allows his own children, ages 8 and 11, three hours of TV per week and a movie night on Fridays.
Here's a final thing to consider: In the 1970s, the average age for children to start watching television was 4 years. Today it's 4 months. In a brave new world of children's media interaction, we have yet to see the lasting effects of their screen-time diet.