Toddlers and TV

By Carrie Johnson Weimar • Published: January 29th, 2010
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

Placing a toddler in front of the television may provide a much-needed break to harried parents. But a new study suggests moms and dads may want to think twice before exposing their kids to television at a young age.

The study showed a link between television watching and aggressive behavior, including fighting, bad moods and disobedience. The scientists took into account factors such as parental problems, poverty and exposure to violence and still found a strong correlation between TV and bad behavior. In fact, it didn’t even matter whether the child watched the television or whether the set was simply on in the background.

For the study, researchers followed more than thirty-one-hundred children in twenty cities for three years. Two-thirds of the children watched more than two hours per day. And the average viewing time was around three hours.

What causes the aggression? Scientists don’t have a definitive answer. It could be the tots were modeling behavior they saw on TV. Or it could be that time in front of the television was replacing time spent on positive tasks, such as reading, playing or interacting with parents.

The American Academy of Pediatrics has already weighed in on the subject. It recommends no television for children under two, and two hours a day or less for older children.

So frazzled parents, turn off the TV and spend some time reading or playing with your toddler. It may make child-rearing easier in the long run.

And someday your kids will thank you for the happy memories.