Professor Christakis maintains that infant TV viewing is associated with delayed language, with shortened attention spans and with delayed cognitive development. This may be, in part, due to the overstimulation of the brain from TV programs flashing lights, quick screen changes, auditory cuts etc. Christakis reviewed 78 studies from the past 25 years and could not find one that actually provides supporting data that television can help the developing brain.
Some Key Findings:
- 29% of parents in a 2007 American study allowed their infants to watch TV because they believed it would promote brain development, despite a lack of real scientific evidence.
- Educational programs developed for infants can actually delay language development according to many studies.
- Infants imitate what they see on TV, but learn better from live presentations.
- A 2004 study of 1,300 children found a modest association between infant TV viewing and attention problems by age 7 while ruling out many factors.
- School age children who watched a lot of TV as infants performed more poorly on reading and memory tests.
- More than 1 in 5 parents in one study allowed their infants to watch TV because they needed time for themselves.
Evidently, companies in the educational TV programming business dispute these findings. With the average age where children begin watching TV dropping from 4 in 1971 to 5 months of age today, the exploitation of this demographic group likely runs parallel to this trend as companies like Baby Einstein and Baby Genius develop their TV shows that aim to support the developing brain. It’s not difficult to see how parents can be so easily deceived. After all, who wouldn’t want their child to excel? These companies work hard and spend a lot of money on marketing tactics in order to persuade parents that their products are beneficial. But, when the evidence doesn’t support the claims, parents need to be made aware of the damage TV can have on their children. Undoubtedly, more money is available to market the benefits of these products than there is available to fund research grants that prove these products have the exact opposite affect that they endorse.
The American Academy of Paediatrics discourages TV viewing in the first two years of life, but only six per cent of parents are aware of this advice despite ongoing publicity.
Letting Infants Watch TV Can Do More Harm Than Good
Baby TV time slows development: Research
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