Toddler TV Time Can Cause Attention Problems
Study Shows, Two Hours a Day Leads to Difficulty Concentrating
WebMD News Archive
Megan Fox says many parents "start out with pretty strict
rules about TV." Fox, who is a stay-at-home mom with four children, tells
WebMD that her oldest daughter Sarah, now a third-grade student in Lakewood,
Ohio, "watched no TV." But the television rules softened somewhat when
Sarah was joined by Michael, age 8 and Anna, who will be 5 in August. When baby
Jack arrived two years ago, Megan decided that sometimes she had to "turn
on the TV so that I could get something done." Now, she says, Jack probably
sees about an hour of TV a day.
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Use Caution With Kids Under Age 2
Susan Buttross, MD, FAAP, who is a professor of pediatrics and
chief of developmental and behavioral pediatrics at the University of
Mississippi in Jackson tells WebMD that Fox is probably pretty typical of most
parents. "We don't want to make any parent feel guilty," says Buttross
who is also a spokeswoman for the American Academy of Pediatrics. "The fact
is that younger children in families are going to be exposed to TV."
But Buttross says the study by Christakis backs up the American
Academy of Pediatrics statement on television, which urges parents to
"exercise caution in letting children under age 2 watch
Buttross says that TV poses a problem because it is "a
passive situation. If a child is looking at the TV and the child says a word or
phrase to the TV, nobody reinforces that act." That reinforcement is
crucial for children under age 3, says Buttross, because "so much speech
and developmental behavior is learned during this period."
She says, too, that Christakis is probably on the right track
with his concerns about the detrimental effect of rapid images. Buttross, who
wasn't involved in the study, says that "parents tell me again and again
that they can't understand how their children can spend hours playing a video
game, yet those same children can't concentrate enough to read a book. But if
you think about it, the attention needed to play a video is about three to five
seconds, because then the situation changes." Buttross was not involved
with the study.