Why is TV Bad for Toddlers?

According to many doctors and child psychologists, television is bad for toddlers. Several factors are responsible for its negative impact including the lack of interaction that young children have with their parents when they watch television as well as less reading and playing time.

Recent Studies

Researchers completed a study of toddlers and mothers during various activities such as playing with toys, reading and watching a television program. The study determined that while young children were watching TV, the activity decreased the amount of time that mothers spent talking to their children. It also diminished the quality of their interaction. Specifically, the mothers made few comments to their children as they watched the program together. Furthermore, when they did talk to their child, their comments did not relate to the remarks made by their child about the show. Therefore, the conversation was unproductive and did not give the child an opportunity to learn more from the television program.

During the reading study, researchers found that mothers talked more to their children and used a higher form of communication. In addition, while reading a book, mothers usually asked her child questions and labeled items in the book. Reading gave them the opportunity to acknowledge their child and provide important information. Playing with toys was another activity that caused mothers to interact positively with their children.

Why Television is bad for Toddlers

Keep in mind that when toddlers spend a lot of time watching television, they are missing crucial interactions with their parents, which is vital to the child’s development. In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics released a recent report that stated children who were two years old or younger should not watch television. The Academy also recommends that children who are more than two years old should only watch one to two hours of television each day.
According to the American Medical Association, children who watch too much television may become overweight because they are not physically active during those hours. In addition, television commercials often promote unhealthy foods, which may encourage poor eating habits. Frequently, obese children suffer from weight problems when they become adults.

Delayed Verbal and Cognitive Skills

The Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine posted a study regarding television and young children. Specifically, the researchers discovered that television may impede verbal and cognitive development, which is the ability to solve problems and learn, in young children. Other studies have shown that television may decrease a child’s reading comprehension and short-term memory scores.

According to Doctor Aric Sigman, who is a known broadcaster and psychologist, children who watch television may suffer from distorted brain wiring. When a child sees something new and interesting, the brain releases a chemical called dopamine. The natural substance provides pleasurable feelings and happiness. Television can cause the brain to release the chemical. Therefore, children will receive pleasure from an artificial source, and as a result, they may not willingly seek pleasure from nature or books.

Parental Tips for Allowing Toddlers to Watch Television

When parents let their toddlers watch television, it is important for them to watch the television program together. It is also beneficial to watch television that has been recorded because parents can pause the show to discuss it with their child. A recording device, such as a Digital Video Recorder, or DVR, also permits parents to fast forward through commercials. If parents don’t have a DVR, then they can mute the commercials to discuss the program with their child. Also, television can help children learn. For instance, if a young child is trying to memorize the alphabet, then locate programs that focus on this element. Toddlers should not watch television programs that are violent or scary as it may encourage them to display aggressive behavior toward other children.

The best programs for toddlers are interactive shows that encourage them to make sounds, say words, dance or sing. Parents can also add value to a television show by talking about it later or reading a book that relates to the program.

If children are in a stressful or painful situation, then entertaining television may soothe them. Therefore, parents may consider letting their child watch TV if they are sick or in the hospital.

The Advantages of Proper Television Viewing

Not all television viewing is bad as educational programs can teach, inspire and inform children. In addition, some programs can help children understand complex actions better. For instance, a child who sees a plant grow on a television screen may understand the process better than when he or she reads about it in a book. Keep in mind that moderation is the key to a healthy child in most areas of his or her life. Also, if parents make sure that their children watch educational television while they are growing up, then they are more likely to watch informative programming as adults.