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SUNDAY: Switch on for baby and you may slow their development

TV Baby

Far from providing the brain boosting advantages promised by programs aimed at the youngest viewers, TV time for children under two does more harm than good, according to a review of international research.

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“Infant TV viewing is associated with delayed language, with shortened attention spans, and with delayed cognitive development,” says Dmitry Christakis, a pediatrician and professor at the University of Washington in America.

“The scientific evidence of benefits is just not there, and the best available evidence suggests harm.”

It is a message that needs to get out to the 29% of parents, who said in a US study that they screened these programs for their tots, because they believe they’re educational, he says.

Among 78 published studies he reviewed from the past 25 years, one found that infants between seven and 16 months, who watched DVDs had poorer language skills.

On a standardized infant language test, that means “for each hour of baby DVDs that infants watched, they knew on average six to eight fewer words” say Christakis’ review notes.

Christakis himself conducted a study with 1300 children in 2004 that found a “modest association” between TV viewing before age 3 and attention problems at seven.

Another study found lagging reading and memory skills in children who watched a lot of TV in their early years.

Since Christakis started studying this, research in this area has advanced, but not as quickly as the “explosion” of media products aimed at very young audiences, he says. In the paper published in the January issue of the journal Acta Paediatrica, Christakis writes:

The average age at which children began to watch TV has dropped from about four years old in 1971 to 5 months old today

That bears repeating. From four years, down to five months.

Opponents?

Sharon Rechter, co-founder of baby first TV, a “commercial free” television station that broadcasts in 15 languages and 35 countries, disputes Christakis’ findings.

“We know that children are learning from TV, and the best way to know that is from the millions of viewers from around the world who write and tell us they are amazed by what their children have learned” she said.

She mentions as an example, babies who pick up sign language from baby first TV, even though their parents do not know the language.

[Editor. Because it’s NOT INTERACTIVE, the passive experience that is “TV” will rot a child’s brain instead of developing it. TURN OFF THE TV!!!]

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