Television Watching

American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no screen media for children under the age of 2 years.

Researchers from Children's Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts, and Harvard Medical School reached this conclusion after monitoring more than 800 children from birth to 3 years of age.

Infants who watched the videos understood fewer words than those who did not watch them.

Babies who spent more time watching TV had lower language and visual motor skills at age 3. But when results were adjusted for household income and education levels, the association did not appear.

Rich, a pediatrician who directs the Center on Media and Child Health at Children's Hospital Boston, said TV watching during infancy instills habits that promote obesity.

"You're teaching 4- or 5- or 6-month-olds how to watch TV," he said. "They're learning to watch TV. The more they watch as they get older, they're snacking in front of TV, they're exposed to snack-food commercials, which inspire them to eat even more and sit even more. It is a cumulative effect of many, many factors."

"The best thing for our kids is to provide them with stimulus that we know is positive for their brain development," Rich said. He suggesting activities like reading, singing, interacting and stacking blocks to help children.

Television Viewing in Infancy and Child Cognition at 3 Years of Age in a US Cohort
Marie Evans Schmidt, Michael Rich, Sheryl L. Rifas-Shiman, Emily Oken, and Elsie M. Taveras
Pediatrics 2009; 123: e370-e375.

Television Viewing