Study Shows That TV Is Bad for Toddlers


In other breaking news… the sky is blue.

For all you parents, who long suspected that exposing your toddler to excessive amounts of television was a bad thing, you now have hard evidence to support your belief.

A new study conducted by the Center for Child Health, Behavior and Development at Seattle Children’s Research Institute found that youngsters who watch too much TV have delayed vocalization and attention problems. However, the reason behind the phenomenon lies not only in the child’s experience with the television, but the impact of television on the adults around him as well.

The two-year study included 300 children, aged two months to four years old. Each child was fitted with a small voice recorder that captured everything they said and heard during 12 to 16 hour periods (minus times that were used for sleeping, bathing and riding in vehicles). Researcher say special software was used to process the recordings and analyze the sounds that the children were exposed to as well as the sounds they made.

The results may surprise you: Researchers say on average, every hour a child was exposed to television was associated with a decrease of 770 words that he or she heard from an adult.

The finding is considered significant since language development is believed to be a critical component of overall brain development during early childhood. The reduced verbal interaction between children and adults may be responsible not only for language delays but for cognitive delays as well.

What’s more, researchers say the study did not distinguish between children who were actively watching television and those who were merely in the vicinity of a set that was on.

“Since 30 percent of American households now report having the television always on, even when no one is watching, these findings have grave implications for language acquisition and therefore perhaps even early brain development,” warns the study’s author.

Did you know you were doing so much damage to your child by simply keeping your TV on even when no one is watching it? The American Academy of Pediatrics’ Committee on Public Education’s did, which is why it recommends that children under the age of two should not be exposed to television at all, and that older children should be limited to no more than two hours per day.

How many hours of TV does your child watch per day?

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Michele Cheplic

About Michele Cheplic

Michele Cheplic was born and raised in Hilo, Hawaii, but now lives in Wisconsin. Michele graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a degree in Journalism. She spent the next ten years as a television anchor and reporter at various stations throughout the country (from the CBS affiliate in Honolulu to the NBC affiliate in Green Bay). She has won numerous honors including an Emmy Award and multiple Edward R. Murrow awards honoring outstanding achievements in broadcast journalism. In addition, she has received awards from the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association for her reports on air travel and the Wisconsin Education Association Council for her stories on education. Michele has since left television to concentrate on being a mom and freelance writer.