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Toddler TV Time Can Cause Attention Problems

Study Shows, Two Hours a Day Leads to Difficulty Concentrating

Use Caution With Kids Under Age 2 continued...


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 television."


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.


Meanwhile, Christakis, who is the father of two children, aged 6 and 3, and a believer in the value of life without TV, says he decided to study television after seeing first-hand how television could captivate even a very young child. "[When my son] was just 3 months old, I had him in my arms in a store where TVs were on. I noticed that he just couldn't take his eyes off the screen."


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