How TV Can Harm Childhood Development
The most popular babysitter in America is dumbing down our children. I'm talking, of course, about television. That's hardly news, I realize. But here's what is: TV can be even more detrimental for babies than for any other age group because it can inhibit their social, cognitive, and language development.
According to a recent study published in the Archive of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, the problem isn't television itself -- it's the lack of parent/child interaction.
It doesn't matter if you're watching TV with your children or if you're plopping them down in front of programs designed to "enhance infant development." The bottom line is that any time spent in front of the TV is time you're not spending interacting with your children.
The author of the study, Dr. Dimitri Christakis, said that for every hour of television watched, parent/child communication dropped 15 percent, which resulted in children hearing 770 less words from adults -- and ultimately led to kids making fewer verbalizations.
This isn't the first study that's raised red flags on this issue. Previous studies have shown that even DVDs and videos designed for babies can lead to a drop in language acquisition. Again, the problem isn't the DVDs themselves. It's the fact that digital media are functioning as substitute parents. And no matter what anyone says, Barney the Purple Dinosaur and Sponge Bob Square Pants just can't compete with the benefits of time spent with mom and dad.
I'm sure you can imagine how widespread this problem is. In 30 percent of American households, the TV is on most of the day. It's all too easy to plop kids down in front of the boob tube babysitter to keep them preoccupied. It says more about the parents than the kids, but ultimately, the kids are the ones who are going to pay the price.
About the author
William Campbell Douglass I.I., M.D. has been called "the conscience of modern medicine."
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