Reuters reports on a University of Washington research study claiming that about 90 percent of U.S. children under age 2 and as many as 40 percent of infants under three months are regular watchers of television, DVDs and videos. “We don’t know from the study whether it is good or bad. What we know is that it is big,” said Frederick Zimmerman of the University of Washington, whose research appears in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine. “Parents are getting the message loud and clear from marketers of TV and videos that this is good for their kids. That it will help their brain development … None of this stuff has ever been proven.”
Well, here’s some proof: The American Academy of Pediatrics, in a second study, said “excessive TV viewing can lead to attention and learning problems down the road. Teens who watch three to four hours of television a day are more likely to have attention or learning problems and are less likely to get a college degree. Even watching more than an hour of TV per day had some adverse consequences, but three hours was much worse than one hour, and two was worse than one.”
My wife and I are new parents, so we admit naivety.Â But we don’t allow our six-month-old son to watch television — not at all. The screen makes him go into a daze, whereby he just tunes everything out, including his parents. It’s pretty scary, like a powerful drug. I’m not sure when we’ll allow it, or in what dosage. But it’s off limits for now. Of course, the Internet is part of this fuzzy, evolving area of parenting guidelines for media, device and social-networking interaction. I’m sure we have a roller-coaster ride ahead of us.