Is Television Bad For Toddlers?

21/01/2010 08:43 | Updated 22 May 2015

You're desperate for a shower, or even to nip to the loo on your own, so how do you safely occupy your toddler? Most parents will turn to CBeebies or a favourite DVD for some babysitting help.

But could you be doing more harm than good? Is letting your little one watch television going to affect their behaviour or language?

Toddlers watching television seems to be one of those subjects that splits parents into two camps – the "a little bit doesn't hurt" and the "over my dead body" contingent. But what's the answer?

According to an American survey, 74 of under twos watch television every day and nearly 18% watch videos or DVDs daily.

But it is unclear how harmful all this television watching on this age group actually is. The website pointed out that studies on the effect of television viewing on children concentrated mainly on pre-schoolers.

However, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has urged parents not to let any children aged under two watch television, and the Australian government decided last year that it would issue guidelines on the matter.

The Australian guidelines stated that watching TV could reduce the amount of time toddlers spend actively playing and developing their language.

Which leaves parents wondering what they should do. The key seems to be moderation.

Julia Pimsleur Levine, creator of an educational DVD series for babies, toddlers and preschoolers, told Parentdish there were less publicised findings from the AAP which found that children who watched shows like Sesame Street were better prepared for school and had stronger language and maths abilities.

"There is a big difference between a baby or toddler watching a few minutes of an educational DVD and the two-to-three hours of viewing per day that the American Academy of Pediatrics found to be potentially unsound for young minds," she said.

She believes parents should be thinking about what their toddler watches and for how long. "Media literacy should be the issue of the day, not media abstinence," she said.

Most shows aimed at toddlers seem to last for no more than 20 minutes, so I'd imagine watching one show a day wouldn't hurt. However television is habit forming so perhaps it's best to avoid it altogether.

What do you think, do you allow your toddler to watch television? Do you think they have been helped by educational children's shows?

Source: (Parentdish US)

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