Those darn scientists are at it again. It seems that ever since I was a kid, the scientific community has been on a crusade to do away with television. For the record, I definitely do not think a parent should use “Dora the Explorer” as a babysitter for their young ones. On the other hand, I also do not think your child will turn into a zombie if he happens to watch one cartoon. For what it’s worth, a recent study of 1,300 Canadian toddlers maintains that TV viewing is more harmful to a child’s developing brain than what was previously thought.
I read about the study in the N.Y. Times and found it interesting for several reasons. First, it monitored toddlers’ television viewing, and then followed up with them when they were in the fourth grade “to assess academic performance, social issues and general health.” The study also controlled for “a mother’s education, whether the child was in a single parent family and other parenting concerns.” By doing this, the scientists could reasonably argue that any significant findings were solely the result of television viewing.
In a nutshell, the study found that children who watch a lot of TV are fat, introverted, targets for bullies, and stink at math. As I stated in the opening paragraph, I tend to view these studies with a skeptical eye. However, I do think the parents of special needs children do need to be particularly mindful as to how much television their kids watch. “Special Needs” is a catch-all that runs the entire gamut of development delays. Frequently, the delays are physical in nature, and those children are unable to fully participate in athletic sports or games.
For these parents, it can be very tempting to substitute television for physical activity. Naturally, the kids enjoy watching the cartoons. Therefore, the parents believe they have found an effective compromise. While it may be challenging for both child and parent, physical activity should not be neglected or minimized. While your child will, no doubt, struggle at first, in time he will eventually reach a level of competence that will make both of you proud.