Children under the age of 2-years-old should not be allowed to watch – or even listen to – television or other forms of media, according to a group of leading pediatricians. Allowing such exposure, either directly or in the background, could hurt their early development.
The recommendation to limit video consumption for babies and young toddlers comes from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), who issued similar advice for parents a decade ago. While the AAP does not go so far as to say that there are any specific detrimental effects to the brain of a baby who watches too much Sesame Street, the group says that such negative effects are possible, and no positive effects have been found, after years of study.
“This updated policy statement provides further evidence that media — both foreground and background — have potentially negative effects and no known positive effects for children younger than 2 years,” the group said in a statement. “Although infant/toddler programming might be entertaining, it should not be marketed as or presumed by parents to be educational….Thus the AAP reaffirms its recommendation to discourage media use in this age group.”
Part of the problem appears to be a total lack of understanding on the babies’ part about what the heck is coming out of a TV; they just don’t understand it. After 2-years-old, however, and TV can actually be good for them, studies have show, just not before that age.
Another serious issue is that media can distract young children from playing, which is a highly necessary part of brain development. As the AAP lays out in its guidelines for parents, “Unstructured playtime is more valuable for the developing brain than any electronic media exposure.”
So parents, the next time you think about recouping from the staggeringly exhausting job of raising a well-functioning human by popping in a DVD, put on your best stiff upper lip and think again.