No electronics for toddlers

By • Published: January 27th, 2012
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

Most parents have probably heard all the warnings about letting babies watch TV. Experts worry that this early exposure could lead to obesity, ADHD or even language delays. But a recent survey found that 90 percent of parents say their kids under the age of 2 watch some form of electronic media.

Now, the latest recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics encourage parents to set limits on the amount of time babies and toddlers under 2 spend in front of screens.

The recommendations are the result of the abundance of media products and programs geared toward babies on TVs, computers and smart phones.

Though many programs are often marketed as educational, health experts say there is little evidence that any media is beneficial for babies. Even having adult programs on in the background can prove to be detrimental and distracting to both parent and child. Though there are few studies linking media exposure to developmental side effects in children, spending too much time in front of TVs and computers keeps children from the most educational interactions of all — face to face with mom and dad.

The A-A-P’s new policy is less restrictive than the one the group released in 1999, which called for parents of children under 2 to avoid television completely.

Parents are now encouraged to set media limits for their young ones and have a strategy for managing electronic media if they choose to use it.

Instead of screens, the guidelines suggest opting for unstructured playtime that may help spark a toddler’s creative thinking and problem-solving skills.

Also, keep televisions out of a baby’s bedroom and be aware that having television shows aimed at adults on in the background isn’t always best for baby.

Children’s health experts hope the new guidelines will encourage parents to turn off the electronics and turn on playtime.