By Deborah Williams
Recently, parents have been warned that too much screen time (30 minutes daily) is very unhealthy for very young children; it impedes their learning and can affect their ability to focus and sustain attention. So, most parents do not allow their very young children to sit in front of a screen for more than 30 minutes a day, but they probably are not concerned when their young ones are in the same room as a television if the child is not primarily focused on it. The article, “Background TV May Harm Young Kids’ Development,” on the WebMD website, reports that a new study presented recently at the annual meeting of the International Communication Association in Phoenix finds that even background television is linked to learning and reading problems for many young children.
The researchers evaluated the television exposure of children from eight months to eight years old. They found that younger children and African American children were exposed to more television than other children. There seemed to be less background television exposure when there is no television in the child’s bedroom. (The researchers noted that some parents leave the television on while the child is sleeping.) Background television, or television that is on within the vicinity of the child even though he or she is not watching it, “interrupts mental tasks.” “…for children under the age of 2, this [background television] may interfere with language development,” says Victor Strasburger, M.D. who reviewed the findings for WebMD.
So, parents should not have a television in their young children’s rooms, and they should not allow their very young children to be exposed to background television for extended periods of time.