TV in the cradle?

Is it a good idea for your baby to be captivated by the small screen? Not according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Is it a good idea for your baby to be captivated by the small screen? Not according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.

This organization recommends that children under the age of two watch absolutely no program or video on the small screen. This recommendation relies on studies that suggest children develop a more prolific vocabulary if they watch very little or no television at all. For its part, the Canadian Paediatric Society warns parents that too much television is associated with attention deficits and learning disabilities, as well as aggressive behaviours.

However, according to an American study, 40% of infants watch television, DVDs or videos regularly as early as the age of three months, while 90% of two-year-olds do. At age two, a child’s typical day consists of over one and a half hours of TV-watching! And parents watch television with their children only half the time.

Close to a third of parents sit their children in front of the television because they believe the program they chose can teach them something, and that it is good for their brain. Close to a quarter of parents believe that toddlers actually enjoy watching television and that it relaxes them. Finally, more than one out of five parents use television as a babysitter while they are busy performing daily chores.

For children under the age of three, verbal interaction with siblings through games, reading and other such activities, should be their principal occupation. We all know that when the TV is on, there is little family interaction. We barely look at one another and we do not talk, save for uttering things like “be quiet”.

While babies should be busy with various games and activities, alone or with their brothers, sisters or parents, older children could actually benefit from a certain exposure to television. However, limit daily TV-watching to a maximum of one hour for preschool children and two hours for early school-aged children. Make sure your child is watching programs that are compatible with your values and pay close attention to ensure they do not watch programs that contain violence, sex and offensive language. It is very important to screen a program and approve its content before you let your child watch it.

So many other activities can contribute positively to a child’s development. Let us remember that not too long ago, television simply did not exist and children turned out just fine!

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