Pediatricians are urging parents to skip TV time for kids under age 2, and engage them instead in supervised, independent play.
The American Academy of Pediatrics first discouraged TV viewing for babies and toddlers under age 2 in 1999, and in an updated policy statement today stood by its recommendation to keep children that age as screen-free as possible.
New data bears out that there are more negative effects than positive ones resulting from media exposure at this early age, the doctors organization found.
Parents who do permit screen time for babies and toddlers are encouraged to set limits and having a strategy for managing electronic media to engage their children with it.
The report also advises parents to avoid placing a TV in a child's bedroom and urges parents to recognize their own media use can have a negative impact on their children.
One key finding: Many video programs for infants and toddlers are marketed as educational but there isn’t evidence to support this. Programs are educational only if children can understand the content and context, and studies show children over age 2 have this understanding.
Another finding: Unstructured play time is more valuable for developing the brain than electronic media because kids learn how to think creatively, solve problems and develop reasoning and motor skills, and they learn how to entertain themselves.
The report also found watching TV before bedtime can interfere with sleep, which can have an impact on mood, behavior and learning.
In a recent survey, 90 percent of parents said their children under age 2 watch some form of electronic media. On average, kids this age are watching TV one-to-two hours a day and by the time they reach age 3 a third of children have a TV in their bedrooms.
Source: American Academy of Pediatrics news release