In case you still didn’t know that gazing at TV is bad for little children, yet another expert has confirmed that warning. Professor Dimitri A Christakis of Seattle Children’s Research Institute and the University of Washington reviewed 78 studies published over the past 25 years and found they confirmed his own research. “No studies to date have demonstrated benefits associated with early infant TV viewing,” he said, noting that as many as nine out of 10 children under the age of two watch the box regularly. Some spend as much as 40 per cent of their waking hours in front of TV.

Some parents still think that TV viewing is “good for their [kids’] brains”, while others admit that they use the box as a baby-minder — to get time for themselves. Despite some programmers and manufacturers claims, studies have found that watching TV and “baby” DVDs in infancy can delay language development. Infants as young as 14 months will imitate what they see on a screen, but they learn better from live presentations. Early TV viewing has been linked with attention problems later in childhood and poorer cognitive skills.

Why? Prof Christakis puts the negative effects down to exposure to flashing lights, scene changes, quick edits and auditory cuts which may be over-stimulating to developing brains. “TV also replaces other more important and appropriate activities like playing or interacting with peers,” he points out. ~ e!Science News, Jan 13

Carolyn Moynihan

Carolyn Moynihan is the former deputy editor of MercatorNet