That’s because twelve years after the AAP was initially talking about being concerned with young children watching TV, they now have the research results to back up their claims.
The scientific-evidence shows that there is “no educational or developmental benefits for media use; the potential negative health and developmental effects of media use; and the negative effects of parents’ use of media when toddlers are around.” This even includes having the TV on in the background without watching it!
Even with the media surge, assuring parents that kids will get educational benefits from TV, this is still unproven. The reality is until about 30 months, kids learn most from a live presentation! When kids watch TV they spend “less time in creative and imaginative play and less time interacting with their family for language development. Unstructured playtime is critical to learning problem-solving and fostering creativity.” Not to mention, if a child is watching TV there is “less time being read to or reading themselves!”
“Despite claims to the contrary, media watching does not appear to accelerate or enhance thinking and language skills, and, at least in the short term, leads to delayed development of these important skills.”
So what’s a parent to do since everywhere you look there is a screen for information, communication, entertainment, directions and on and on? Kids not only see their parents on the phone everyday but their older siblings watching TV and everywhere else they see literally everyone is looking at their screens.
Now that we know the facts, that is half the battle, because parents can make less TV part of their parenting plan. Just like you make sure your child brushes his/her teeth, does his/her homework or behaves, keep track of how much the TV is on and what he/she is watching. And for every minute your child watches TV, make sure he/she spends the same amount of time playing, interacting with the family, reading and listening to music. Lastly, always talk to your kids about everything they see on any screen!
Come up with your answers for healthy screen time now that you know the facts, Dr. Ann
*Coming soon: Pocket Full of Feelings, a product for family emotional literacy learning.