Monday, March 30, 2009

TV for Toddlers: Not harmful after all?

A new study by the researchers at Children's Hospital Boston and Harvard Medical School bucks the "TV is bad for your toddler" trend, finding that hours in front of the television, while not beneficial, doesn't seem to harm young kids, either.

"In this study, TV viewing in itself did not have measurable effects on cognition," said Dr. Elsie Taveras, senior author of the study and pediatrician at Children's. "TV viewing is perhaps best viewed as a marker for a host of other environmental and familial influences, which may themselves be detrimental to cognitive development."

It's worth noting that while the study took into account a host of variables -- mother's age, education, household income, marital status, and the child's gender, race, birth weight, body mass index, and sleep habits, among other things -- it did not examine the actual content being viewed by the 872 children involved. And though infants and young children who spent hours at a time in front of the television may not suffer from cognitive delays, TV exposure has been associated with increased risk of obesity, poor quality of sleep, and attention problems.

The American Association of Pediatrics still recommends that children watch no more than two hours of "quality" programming per day, and that children younger than 2 watch no TV at all. (Most kids in the US watch about three hours of TV a day). But as any working parent knows, it's nearly impossible to guarantee that your tiny tot will never watch any TV.

A reader recently asked for suggestions for shows that are appropriate for a 2-year-old. Barney was banned from our household when our oldest, now 15, was a toddler -- we just couldn't stand to watch it with her -- but there are plenty of age-appropriate, slow-paced, toddler-friendly TV shows that do make the cut. The details are at's Child Caring blog, but Teletubbies (PBS), Sesame Street (PBS), Curious George (PBS), Oswald (Nick Jr.), Yo Gabba Gabba! (Nick Jr.), and Blues Clues (Nick Jr.) are on my toddler's viewing list.

Other shows enjoyed (in moderation!) by our 2-year-old and our 4-year-old are Dora the Explorer (Nick Jr.), Go, Diego, Go! (Nick Jr.), Ni Hao Kai Lan (Nick Jr.), Word Girl (PBS), Super Why (PBS), and Arthur (PBS).

Typing this out, it seems like an awful lot of television for a couple of little kids, but if they only watch a show or two at a time, I'm OK with it.

How about you? What shows are on your short list?

1 comment:

Pump style backpack said...

Hey there, mine is just two years old, he's like a TV freak, starts crying if I switch off the TV, I have consulted with the specialists as well, they say it's completely natural thing, most of the kids do that. Just don't worry. I am worried that he doesn't get into any problem as he grows up.