What’s the Effects of TV on Children?
The effects of TV on children is quite often concealed by the Television companies and large corporations.
TV has such a common place in most households, especially in the West, that we’re very used to having it on. It seems programs especially designed to appeal to babies and toddlers are becoming very popular. Many of these programs boast their educational content and the ability to hold a baby or toddler’s attention.
Well, having a busy little one stare at the TV while cute characters or fun adults entertain them, does free us up to either do chores, work, or take a much needed break, doesn’t it? And isn’t a bit of TV time relaxing for kids?
Yet do you ever wonder about how much little ones actually learn from TV? At lot of people don’t consider what the effects of children are.
As babies and children move they build pathways in their brains. They learn using all their senses simultaneously with ease. Well, considering what a passive activity watching TV is, I wondered about the developmental effects of TV on Children.
Here are a few quotes that represent the results of the research I did on the effects of TV on children from studies and pediatricians. BTW, the bolded words are my own emphasis. I hope you can easily find the links to the sources at the bottom of each section.
Toddlers and TV: Early Exposure Has Negative and Long-Term Impact
Want kids who are smarter and thinner? Keep them away from the television set as toddlers.
A shocking study from child experts at the Université de Montréal, the Sainte-Justine University Hospital Research Center and the University of Michigan, published in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, has found that television exposure at age two forecasts negative consequences for kids, ranging from poor school adjustment to unhealthy habits.
“Between the ages of two and four, even incremental exposure to television delayed development,” says Dr. Pagani.
“We found every additional hour of TV exposure among toddlers corresponded to a future decrease in classroom engagement and success at math, increased victimization by classmates, have a more sedentary lifestyle, higher consumption of junk food and, ultimately, higher body mass index,” says lead author Dr. Linda S. Pagani, a psychosocial professor at the Université de Montréal and researcher at the Sainte-Justine University Hospital Research Center.
A total of 1,314 kids took part in the investigation, which was part of the Quebec Longitudinal Study of Child Development Main Exposure. Parents were asked to report how much TV their kids watched at 29 months and at 53 months in age. Teachers were asked to evaluate academic, psychosocial and health habits, while body mass index (BMI) was measured at 10 years old.
“Early childhood is a critical period for brain development and formation of behaviour,” warns Dr. Pagani. “High levels of TV consumption during this period can lead to future unhealthy habits. Despite clear recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics suggesting less than two hours of TV per day — beyond the age of two — parents show poor factual knowledge and awareness of such existing guidelines.”
The Impact of Television:
A Natural Experiment
The correlations between heavy TV watching and other behaviors could be merely effects from common causes. So how can the effects of television be disentangled from all others? This book, “The Impact of Television” exploited a unique situation to do so. There was a town in central British Columbia that could not get TV because it was situated in a remote valley. BC is quite mountainous and TV signals don’t carry far. In 1973 the town elders convinced the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (the CBC, the official channel) to install a transmitter just for them. The town would get hit with television not in its early formative stage, but in its mature and virulent form. Tannis MacBeth Williams, a professor of sociology at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, heard about the installation, and decided to test the hypotheses about the effects of television by looking at the town before and [2 years] after TV arrived.
To sum up: the introduction of television made kids more aggressive, harmed the acquisition of reading skills, decreased creativity scores, and cut participation in non-TV leisure activities.
TV Linked to Attention Deficit
A study from the American Academy of Pediatrics shows that watching videos as a toddler may lead to Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD, also called ADD in UK) in later life.
TV watching “rewires” an infant’s brain, says Dr. Dimitri A. Christakis lead researcher and director of the Child Health Institute at Children’s Hospital and Regional Medical Center, Seattle, Wash. The damage shows up at age 7 when children have difficulty paying attention in school.
“In contrast to the way real life unfolds and is experienced by young children, the pace of TV is greatly sped up.” says Christakis. His research appears in the April 2004 issue of Pediatrics. Quick scene shifts of video images become “normal,” to a baby “when in fact, it’s decidedly not normal or natural.” Christakis says. Exposing a baby’s developing brain to videos may overstimulate it, causing permanent changes in developing neural pathways.
“Also in question is whether the insistent noise of television in the home may interfere with the development of ‘inner speech’ by which a child learns to think through problems and plans and restrain impulsive responding,” wrote Jane Healy, psychologist and child brain expert in the magazine’s commentary.
Babies brains grow rapidly
Even a child playing with its own fingers has the neural patterning that comes from bending, flexing, stretching and grasping. Scientists tell us that the brain develops in completely unique ways between birth and three years. As a kiddie viddie baby sits “mesmerized”, neural paths are not being created. This is crucial brain development that stops by age three.
Setting up baby for failure in school
Are parents who use infant videos such as “Baby Einstein” and “Teletubbies” putting their child at risk for a lifetime of Special Ed classes, school “behavioral therapy” and Ritalin?
In the study of more than 2,000 children, Christakis found that for every hour watched at age one and age three, the children had almost a ten percent higher chance of developing attention problems that could be diagnosed as ADHD by age 7. A toddler watching three hours of infant television daily had nearly a 30 percent higher chance of having attention problems in school.
Don’t put your child at risk!
The good news is, infants and toddlers don’t need television to distract them. Humans raised children for 50,000 years before television sets and you can do it too. Your children can learn to entertain themselves or play with your supervision.
“When one-year olds are playing with a toy, they can explore it, poke at it, drop it,” says Yale University Television Researcher Dorothy Singer. “They’re learning about space, about sound, and they’re developing sense of competence. Watching a TV show just doesn’t provide the same sensory experience.”
Leaving a child alone with the TV is never a good idea.
“Would you entrust you toddler into the care of a baby sitter, even for a few minutes, who cannot hear or see your child?” writes Nancy Hall of Yale University’s Bush Center in Child Development and Social Policy. “Would you leave your child in an environment that encourages passivity, limits creativity and results in increased aggressive behavior? Many 1-year-olds are spending time regularly with just such a baby sitter: the television set.”
The Effects of TV on Children’s Brain Development
The power of early adult-child interactions is remarkable. Researchers found that when mothers frequently spoke to their infants, their children learned almost 300 more words by age two than did their peers whose mothers rarely spoke to them. However, mere exposure to language through television or adult conversation provided little benefit. Infants need to interact directly with others. Children need to hear people talk to them about what they are seeing and experiencing, in order for their brains to fully develop language skills.
When it Comes to Learning Speech
Nothing Beats a Live Conversation
Patricia Kuhl, a leading researcher in the field of language acquisition, has demonstrated this point in some elegant experiments on babies.
Kuhl and her colleagues presented 9-month old American babies with an unfamiliar language—Mandarin Chinese. In one experiment, babies were allowed to interact with a real, live Mandarin speaker. After 12 sessions, these babies showed an enhanced ability to discriminate certain speech sounds that are common in the Mandarin language.
But when the experiment was repeated with another set of infants who watched only televised language tutors, the results were different. The babies exposed to Mandarin via TV were no more likely than control infants to discriminate Mandarin speech sounds (Kuhl et al 2003).
In both experiments, the Mandarin speakers gazed directly at the babies, discussed toys, and used that special, “baby-friendly” style of speaking known as “infant-directed speech.” The difference between experiments was the social factor. As Kuhl notes, “infants are apparently not computational automatons—rather, they might need a social tutor when learning a natural language” (Kuhl 2004).
TV May Harm Toddlers’ Brain Development
Dr. Dimitri Christakis, a pediatrician at Children’s Hospital in Seattle, said certain TV programs and infant-aimed videos such as “Baby Einstein” and “Brainy Baby” are marketed as being advantageous for the developing child.
“What we know is that the claims that are made by the purveyors of these products, both explicitly and implicitly, that they can make your children smarter or more musical or more mathematical, are entirely unsubstantiated,” he said Monday from Seattle. “There’s absolutely no scientific evidence in support of those claims, nor is there any scientific basis theoretically to believe them,” said Christakis, co-author of the book “The Elephant in the Living Room: Make Television Work For Your Kids.”
“And the best available evidence to date suggests that certainly watching a lot of TV before the age of two is in fact harmful – harmful in terms of children’s attentional abilities later in life, harmful in terms of their cognitive development, both of those measured at school entry.”
To conduct the study, published in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, the researchers conducted a telephone survey of 1,009 parents of children age two to 24 months. They analyzed four television and DVD content categories: children’s educational, children’s non-educational, baby DVDs/videos and adult television (such as talk shows or sports programming).
Co-founder of the study Christakis said parents have several reasons for allowing television and DVD/video viewing: 29 per cent believe that television is educational or good for their child’s brain; 23 per cent see it as enjoyable or relaxing for their child; and 21 per cent think it gives them time to get things done while the child is entertained.
“People have the assumption that parents used this as a babysitter, that’s their primary motivator,” he said. “But in fact what we found was that the Number 1 reason they give is that it’s good for their children’s brain.”
“They think it’s actually good and it’s not surprising that they think that because they’ve been marketed to quite aggressively with claims to that effect. But the reality is quite different.”
The Canadian Pediatric Society recommends that preschoolers watch an hour or less of TV a day and that school-age kids keep their screen time to two hours maximum. The American Academy of Pediatrics discourages any screen time for children under two.
Dr. Anthony Ford-Jones, a pediatrician in Burlington, Ont., said the problem with infants and toddlers watching TV or DVDs is that it’s a passive activity.
“It’s very attractive, but it’s probably not as good for the child’s brain as actively doing something and finding their own fun,” Ford-Jones said Monday. “A child’s mind at the earliest stages works in such an active way. They can be fascinated by things . . . They’d be better off with a cupboard full of pots and pans than they would be with passive sitting in front of something that looks cute and pretty and colourful and has jingles and nice tunes.”
Christakis said most parents he deals with feel guilty about their television use, but instead of feeling guilty they should just try using it more wisely.
“It’s very difficult to be a parent, and most parents find themselves relying on TV in one way or another. The real challenge for them is to find a way to make it work for their kids.”
We Have Been Deceived to Gain Profit From Us
Claire Battersby’s comments:
Please forgive yourself if you weren’t aware of the effects of TV on children because in this consumer driven world we are being deceived by marketing campaigns.
Please remember that the large corporations don’t want you to know about the effects of TV on children. Kids are easy to convince that they must have that ‘new’ toy, accessory or junk food and parents want their kids to be happy so they’re sold. Of course, the companies that sell TV programs for little one’s market the products as good for kids to attract the parents.
The point of this page is to raise awareness of the proven effects of TV on children and to help parents and carers understand that babies and toddlers bear the most negative effects of screen time. I hope you feel informed and empowered about providing your child with the best chance at fulfilling their potential.
OK So What Can I Do Instead? I hear you ask. Check out these easy toddlers activities and distraction tips that can help you to do the chores or have a rest while caring for your little one! You can also rest-assured knowing that your child will be learning and developing while they are enjoying these activities. Also bear in mind that all the activities on Clever Toddler Activities are educational as well as enjoyable.