Putting a child under the age of two in front of a television screen does them little, if any, good, says an expert on media and child health. “There is no scientific evidence that children under the age of about 30 months … can learn much of anything other than fairly rote imitation or mimicry from an electronic screen,” says Dr Michael Rich of Harvard Medical School.

However, national data from the United States shows that children under two use electronic games on average for about an hour a day, that 26 per cent of them have TV in their bedrooms and that “it is very much integrated into their daily lives, largely in the format of parents using the television as an electronic babysitter,” says Dr Rich.

Baby Einstein-type videos are predicated on the claim that they promote cognitive development. Dr Rich says TV screens do not provide the kind of stimuli optimal for brain development. “The best things are interaction with other human beings face to face, manipulating the physical environment stacking up blocks, trying to get a raisin in your mouth and open-ended creative problem-solving sort of play.” A blank piece of paper and a crayon will do nicely.

Teenagers too, in view of all the other things they should be doing for a rich life, should limit media time to “an hour or two at most,” says Dr Rich. ~ ABC News, Nov 6


Carolyn Moynihan

Carolyn Moynihan is the former deputy editor of MercatorNet