No TV or video for two years? Tube dangerous for kids under 2, say pediatricians

(Thinkstock Photos)
(Thinkstock Photos)

Yesterday the American Academy of Pediatrics issued a stern warning to parents: TV is bad for kids under 2. And not just some TV shows, all moving screens with pictures.

That means "Yo Gabba Gabba", but also the football game playing in the living room or the Youtube clip buffering on your iPad.

A statement on the AAP website stops short of calling the glowing moving images on your iPhone that transfix your baby what it sometimes appears to be: kid-crack.

"The Academy is concerned about the impact of television programming intended for children younger than age two and how it could affect your child's development," says a statement on the AAP website. "Pediatricians strongly oppose targeted programming, especially when it's used to market toys, games, dolls, unhealthy food and other products to toddlers. Any positive effect of television on infants and toddlers is still open to question, but the benefits of parent-child interactions are proven

It's not the first time the organization has set off alarm bells over the dangerous developmental side effects of too much media. In 1999, the AAP called for a complete ban on TV viewing for kids under two and suggested parents fill out detailed a media-watching history for their child's pediatrician. That would be an impossible task today, in the era of pocket media-players, bust stop video kiosks and car-seat flat-screens.

This latest announcement, though a little less extreme that '99 call to action, harps on the fact that moving images are everywhere and the more exposure your baby has to them, the less time he spends fostering language skills and creativity.

"What we know from recent research on language development is that the more language that comes in - from real people - the more language the child understands and produces later on," Temple University psychology professor Kathryn Hirsh-Pasek told the New York Times.

The AAP suggests that parents limit their kids' media intake, not just with television programming but with apps and websites, at least for the first two years. But they don't give official guidelines as to where the tipping point lies: is three hours a week of three hours a day of Dora the Explorer going to hold up your child from learning the alphabet?

All of it is a crime according to the APP. Time in front of the tube is time wasted, according to the report. For every hour in front of the TV, a child loses 50 minutes communicating with a parent. The figures and facts may be accurate, but how realistic is living in screen-less world in 2011?

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