Is TV Bad For Baby?
How does TV effect your child's development?
Admission: we watch entirely too much television in our home.
It's just too easy to leave the tube on all day. I like to have it on partly for company; the noise makes an empty house feel less lonely. TV is also a source of relaxation for me. If I can't sleep at night or if I'm feeling anxious or sick about something, I know that I can flip on the trusty box and find comfort in its soothing blue light and low electric hum. And, truth be told, I really enjoy watching TV too!
My diehard habit of leaving the TV on all day pressed on into parenthood. The first few weeks after Oliver was born, that was all we did was sit on the couch and watch talk shows. It was a rough transition from working full time to doing nothing full time!
Eventually I discovered that putting on cartoons was a necessary distraction for Oliver when Mommy needed to get something done around the house. Now, every morning, we turn on PBS Kids and let it play through breakfast and usually up till naptime.
I've always felt a little guilty about letting Oliver watch so much television, but a lot of times it's the only thing that will entertain him when I need to do the dishes or work on the computer. And it's not like I let him watch worthless programs; at least they're educational, even if he doesn't understand them yet. How bad could it really be?
Marie Evans Schmidt of the Center on Media & Child Health at Children's Hospital Boston conducted a study of more than 800 children between the ages of birth and 3 years old and the effects of their TV watching.
She found that those who watched more television typically performed worse on language and motor skills at age 3 than their non-viewing counterparts. However, after factoring in other influences such as the mother's educational level and household income, the negative effects of TV disappeared. It was determined that the mother's interaction and cognitive levels were primary to child development, much more than time in front of the television could undermine.
Schmidt and other child development researchers stress, however, that TV and videos are in no way beneficial to young children and should not be used with the sole intent to educate.
Says Dr. Dimitri Christakis of Seattle Children's Research Institute: "If you absolutely need a break to take a shower or make dinner, then the risks are quite low. But if you are doing it because you think it's actually good for your child's brain, then you need to rethink that, because there is no evidence of benefit and certainly a risk of harm at high viewing levels."