Thursday, August 25, 2011
TV and Very Young Children
Television is a big part of children’s lives, too. Recent research conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation (2005) found that nearly 60% of children under the age of two watch TV on a typical day for an average of two hours each day. Nearly 40% of children ages six and under live in a house where the TV is “always or mostly” on, even if no one is watching.
For years, television programming for children was aimed at preschoolers and older children. Research showed that some educational programs could help three, four and five year old children build their vocabulary and develop language and thinking skills.
New programs are now targeting toddlers and even infants. Current research shows that children under the age of two do pay attention to programs that are made for them, but that babies and toddlers do not seem to learn much from TV, while they do learn more from live interactions with people. In fact, watching TV or having TV on in the background may even interfere with a child’s cognitive development and ability to focus.
Researchers admit that not much is known about the impacts of media on the very youngest children, and certainly more research is needed. But in the meantime, parents who want their children to watch TV may want to choose high-quality educational programs and make sure to balance these with time for just plain playing and talking together. That’s how young children learn best.